The nationally watched Two Staceys governor's race in the Georgia Democratic primary comes to a close Tuesday, with black candidate Stacey Abrams expected to win over white challenger Stacey Evans.
An Abrams victory will draw attention to the size of her turnout, and its racial/gender composition. An unusually large number of primary voters will indicate an even bigger showing in the fall and whether she has any shot at breaking the Republicans' hold on the governor's office.
While Evans has followed the usual Democratic strategy of appealing to moderate white suburbanites, Abrams has pitched her campaign to black/Latino voters she's depending on to turn Georgia from red to blue. For several years, Abrams has sought to build a political base from the increasing number of black and Latino voters.
If her assessment proves correct come November, Abrams will make history as the country's first black woman governor. If she's wrong, she'll join other Demcoratic candidates crushed by the GOP machine, which wrested control of state politics more than a decade ago when Sonny Perdue shocked incumbent Democrtic Gov. Roy Barnes, who'd upset white conservatives by removing the Confederate symbol from the state flag.
Abrams also will get a boost if GOP front-runner Casey Cagle sinks into a runoff against Secretary of State Brian Kemp or State Sen. Hunter Hill. If Kemp doesn't make it, his goofy campaign commercials will make him a good replacement for Max Baer Jr. as Jethro in a "Beverly Hillbillies" remake.
Landing in a runoff will force Cagle to devote time, money and energy for a few more weeks to defeating his GOP rival, rather than turning his attention to the general election. Abrams, if she wins, can get a head start on her general election campaign.
Barrowing down: Pardon my political correctness gap, but I wondered why former U.S. Rep. John Barrow is running for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state instead of governor.
A well-known Athens attorney who repeatedly survived GOP congressional campaigns against him, Barrow unlike Evans and Abrams, has strong statewide name recognition. And, to be blunt, as a white male he would draw white suburban voters.
A state representative making her first statewide race, Evans would have made a strong candidate for secretary of state, or lieutenant governor, where the Democratic candidates appear shockingly weak.
A tough campaign? Perhaps Abrams has a plausible chance of defeating Cagle, as national reporters so fervently want to believe. Longtime Georgia political observers expect that Democratic hopes again will be smashed.
Despite his turn against Delta Air Lines and obsequious embrace of the NRA, Cagle holds the steadfast support of businesses and the GOP "establishment," whatever that may be.
Still, Abrams can be expected to rough up Cagle with more of a tough-fisted campaign than timid Democrats have run in the past. The moderate path has proven a perennial loser. A sprightly Abrama campaign might inspire a large enough turnout to at least frighten the GOP.