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Stacey Abrams wins Democratic nomination in Georgia, could become first black female governor in U.S. history

Stacey Abrams wins Democratic nomination in Georgia, could become first black female governor in U.S. history
If elected in November, Abrams would become the first black woman governor in the U.S. (John Amis / Associated Press)

In Georgia's gubernatorial primary, Democrats elected a woman who could become the first black female governor in American history, but no Republican candidate gathered more than 50% of the vote so the top two face a July runoff.

Stacey Abrams secured the Democratic nomination, becoming the first woman to do so. She will face either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Their GOP runoff is scheduled for July 24.

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Abrams beat former state Rep. Stacey Evans in a race featuring two former legislative colleagues tussling over ethics accusations and their respective records on education.

Abrams' campaign was plagued by allegations of ethics violations, including that she reimbursed herself money from campaign accounts and that she used campaign resources to promote book sales from which she personally profited. She has denied the allegations.

Abrams got a last-minute boost with an endorsement — in the form of a 60-second robo-call — from Hillary Clinton.

In the Republican race, Cagle and Kemp beat three rivals in a race characterized by over-the-top ads, strong support for gun rights and tough talk on immigration. The field was all white men: former legislators, officeholders and businessmen, some with decades of political experience and others positioning themselves as outsiders challenging the establishment.

Cagle garnered national headlines in February when he threatened to kill a tax break benefiting Delta Air Lines, one of Georgia's largest employers, for ending a discount program for members of the National Rifle Assn.

Kemp garnered strong criticism — and national headlines — with a series of campaign ads including one where he says he has a big truck, "Just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take 'em home myself."

In the ballroom of a downtown Atlanta hotel, Abrams thanked supporters and outlined her vision for the future.

She drew loud and sustained applause when she told the crowd, "We can repeal campus carry and we can expand HOPE," referring to a law that allows guns to be brought onto college campuses and a popular scholarship program.

Abrams said: "We are writing the next chapter of Georgia's future, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired."

Cagle and Kemp, meanwhile, showed no signs of slowing down and pivoted directly to talk of the runoff.

In Athens, Kemp told supporters, "We have created that grass-roots game in all 159 counties that has worked so hard for us tonight," as he laid out his strategy for defeating Cagle.

At Cagle's gathering in Gainesville, he told the crowd: "It's great to come in first place. We've got a lot more to be done."

"We are right where we need to be in terms of this runoff," he added.

The candidates are vying to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who has held the office since 2011.

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Voters in Texas, Kentucky and Arkansas also went to the polls Tuesday.

In Texas, attorney Lizzie Fletcher far outpaced activist Laura Moser in a Houston congressional contest that became a proxy for Democrats' fight between liberals and moderates. She will face Rep. John Culberson in the fall.

In a congressional district that stretches from San Antonio to the Mexico border, Gina Ortiz Jones, an Air Force veteran, got Democrats' nod to face Republican Rep. Will Hurd in November. Jones would be the first openly lesbian congresswoman from her state.

Former NFL player Colin Allred topped Lillian Salerno in a Dallas House district and will face Republican Rep. Pete Sessions in November.

Among Republicans, Chip Roy, former chief of staff to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, won a competitive runoff for a San Antonio-area congressional seat opened by the retirement of Rep. Lamar Smith.

In the governor's race, Democrats tapped former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to take on Republican incumbent Greg Abbott in November. Valdez is Texas' first openly gay and first Latina nominee for governor.

In a central Kentucky congressional district, voters opted for retired Marine officer and fighter pilot Amy McGrath over Lexington Mayor Jim Gray to advance to a fall campaign against Republican Rep. Andy Barr.

In eastern Kentucky's Rowan County, voters denied the Democratic nomination to David Ermold, a gay candidate who had wanted to face Republican Kim Davis, who went to jail three years ago for denying marriage licenses in the aftermath of an historic U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

In Arkansas, state Rep. Clarke Tucker captured Democrats' congressional nomination in a Little Rock-based district by telling his story as a cancer survivor. He will face Republican Rep. French Hill, who voted many times to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The state's Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson dispatched primary opposition as he seeks another term. Democrats nominated former Teach for America executive Jared Henderson.

UPDATES:

9:25 p.m.: The story was updated with results from Texas, Kentucky and Arkansas.

8:50 p.m.: The story was updated with candidate comments.

The story was originally published at 7:10 p.m.

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