Stacey Abrams recalls a term her mother used to describe her family as they struggled through poverty in Mississippi.
“My mom likes to call it the genteel poor. We had no money but we watched PBS and we read books,” said Abrams. “They really believed that where we started out was not going to dictate where we ended up.”
Abrams has today ended up on a precipice of history, with the potential to become America’s first female African-American governor if she wins her May Democratic primary and November general election in Georgia.
Abrams is looking to replace Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who has served since 2011, in a state where a Democrat hasn’t won statewide office since in over a decade.
The governor’s mansion would be a far cry from the modest early life led by this daughter of Methodist ministers, who moved their family from Mississippi to Georgia to pursue their religious studies at the age of 40. As one of six children, Abrams said she was raised in a home where family, faith, and service mattered more than anything else. After years working as a tax attorney and, later, deputy city attorney in Atlanta, Abrams said it was those early influences that led her to seek public office in 2006.
“I had only lived in the community for two years, so I couldn’t run on my deep history with the neighborhood. I couldn’t run on previous experience. So I ran as a technocrat,” said Abrams. “So I would do these Jeopardy-style games during my campaign where I’d have people ask me just random questions about government. And so I think they elected me just because it was, I was an oddity. But I also worked really hard. I was very relentless because government is good if it’s done well and it helps people.”
Her first campaign, said Abrams, represented a huge learning curve for her — not just as a first-time candidate, but as a woman in a male-dominated field.
“You don’t have role models who show you how to do it,” recalled Abrams. “And there’s an internal dynamic that I’ve seen among women that doesn’t seem to exist among men, where we believe we have to be experts before we stand for office. Men wake up, some of them, and look in the mirror and think, ‘I’m attractive, I should be in charge of something.’”
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SOURCE: ABC News, Amna Nawaz