Stacey Abrams: Record And Background

Learn more about Stacey Abrams, her run for Governor of Georgia, her record in the Georgia State Assembly, and what she stands for.
Stacey Abrams delivering the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address on February 5, 2019 (CSPAN)

Stacey Abrams delivering the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address on February 5, 2019 (CSPAN)

Who is Stacey Abrams?

Stacey Abrams is a woman of firsts. She became the first African American woman in history to win a major party nomination for governor, and the first woman as well as the first African American to serve in a leadership position in the Georgia House. In 2019, Abrams became the first African American woman to give a State of the Union Response.

A voting rights advocate, an author, and an entrepreneur, Abrams served in the Georgia State Assembly from 2007 until she left to pursue the governorship, losing to Governor Brian Kemp in a hotly contested race by a razor-thin margin in 2018. Kemp, the then-Georgia Secretary of State, had control over voter registrations and purges; alleged voter suppression is the subject of a lawsuit filed against the state by Abrams’ organization, Fair Fight Action. Kemp has infamously reopened many of Georgia’s businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a move Abrams says “Makes no sense.”

What does Stacey Abrams stand for?

One of Stacey Abrams’ key issues is voting rights, establishing the New Georgia Project in 2013 with the goal of increasing African American voter registration. She founded the Voter Access Initiative in 2014, which later became Fair Fight Action. After her run for governor of Georgia, in 2018 Abrams established Fair Fight, a “hybrid” PAC dedicated to ensuring voting rights through registration, ballot access, and making sure votes are counted. Beyond voting rights, Abrams ran for governor pledging to address the following issues:

  • Affordable Housing
  • Access to education
  • Energy and Environment
  • Equal Rights
  • Gun safety
  • Health Care
  • Jobs, Economy, and Infrastructure
  • Criminal Justice
  • Military and Veterans
  • Voting Rights and Public Integrity
  • Aging and disability
  • Film, Entertainment and the Arts
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What happened during Stacey Abrams’s run for Georgia governor?

In 2018, Georgia State Assemblywoman Stacey Abrams became the first African American woman in history to secure a major-party nomination for governor. She faced then-Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, who insisted on continuing to act as Secretary of State during the election and voting process, despite, at the least, the appearance of a conflict of interest as the Secretary of State essentially controls the election.

Voters, particularly and disproportionately voters of color, were purged from voter rolls; even small variations between identification and voter applications resulted in voters not being permitted to vote. According to the lawsuit filed by Fair Fight Action, 70 percent of the voters subject to this “exact match” were African American. Voter precincts were closed, voters purged, absentee ballots canceled, lines long, equipment faulty, ballots disqualified and polling places did not have sufficient provisional ballots for voters so they could vote and later remedy any identification issues.

As Secretary of State, Brian Kemp oversaw the implementation of all of these provisions despite his own candidacy, and only resigned his position after the election. In an election with more than 4 million votes, Kemp won by a scarce 1 percent or about 55,000 votes.

In November 2018, Abrams’ organization, Fair Fight Action, filed a lawsuit against the State of Georgia alleging the election violated constitutional voting rights including:

  • The Fundamental Right to Vote in the First Amendment;
  • The Ban on Racial Discrimination in Voting in the Fifteenth Amendment;
  • The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment;
  • Section Two of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and
  • The Help America Vote Act of 2002.

The lawsuit survived a motion to dismiss in May of 2019. In a separate lawsuit, Fair Fight Action contested Georgia’s “use it or lose it” law. The state purged more than 300,000 voters deemed “inactive” in December 2019, and the lawsuit called for Georgia to reinstate 120,000 of those voters. “Inactive,” according to the statute, meant voters did not vote or respond to mail for three years then did not vote in the next to federal elections, for a total of 7 years.

A recent law changed the initial period to five years, for a total of nine years, but this standard was not applied retroactively. The Georgia Secretary of State reinstated 22,000 voters upon the lawsuit. Judge Steve C. Jones ruled in favor of Georgia, and the remaining 98,000 voters will have to re-register in order to vote.

There is no constitutional requirement that a voter must exercise the right to vote in order to keep the right to vote.

What is Stacey Abrams’s Georgia General Assembly record as a state representative?

First elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 2007, Stacey Abrams served the state’s 89th district in the House until she left for her gubernatorial run in 2017. Representing part of Atlanta and Decatur as well as some unincorporated counties, in 2010, Abrams was elected Minority Leader, the first woman and the first African American to do so.

During her final term in the Georgia House, Abrams served on the Ethics, Judiciary- Non-Civil, Rules and Ways and Means Committees; she previously served on Appropriations, Defense and Veterans Affairs, Revenue Structure and Code Review. She co-authored reforms for the HOPE bill in order to save the program, reducing the amount of tuition covered for students as the Georgia Lottery no longer covered the costs. Abrams single-handedly prevented a tax cut bill from passing, showing that the subsequent increase in cable taxes would end up increasing net taxes for 82% of citizens.

Known for working with Republicans to accomplish goals like lowering prison costs without increasing crime, Abrams even explained a Republican colleague’s bill for him to the House. Abrams later voted against it. Still, over her time in the state legislature, she garnered criticism that she is, perhaps, quick to collaborate.

Abrams also helped to pass historic bipartisan transportation legislation. Abrams’ biggest legacy, however, is her drive to secure voting rights for all Georgians, with the specific aim of registering voters. While in the House, Abrams founded her initial organization intended to do just that, Georgia First.

Upon running for governor, Abrams disclosed that she owed $50,000 in back taxes to the IRS, which she deferred due to family medical expenses; she also owed significant amounts in student loan and credit card debt. Instead of hiding or shying away from this revelation, Abrams instead saw it as a commonality with the people she sought to represent:

“Sometimes we stumble and we have to have a leader who understands those struggles…Because falling down does not mean you have to stay there — and stay silent.”

What is Stacey Abrams’s background?

A graduate with honors from historically black Spelman College in 1995, with a Masters of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin in 1998 and a Yale law degree in 1999, Stacey Abrams was born in Madison, Wisconsin. She grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi, the second of six siblings born to Robert and Carolyn Abrams; the family later moved to Atlanta, Georgia where her parents both became Methodist ministers, converting from Baptists.

Abrams worked for Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan as a tax attorney. At 29, Abrams was appointed Deputy City Attorney for Atlanta and later went on to co-found NOW Corp., a financial services firm, and Nourish, Inc., a beverage company for infants and toddlers. She is the co-owner/COO of The Family Room, a social media app for kids, and her 2018 Georgia financial disclosure statement lists a slew of similar fiduciary positions, including her acting as CEO, COO, and Director for a number of organizations.

Abrams is the best-selling author of her re-titled work of non-fiction, Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change (formerly Minority Leader: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change). She is also a romance-suspense writer, under the pen name of Selena Montgomery.

After setting many firsts, including the first African American woman in history to garner the nomination of a major party for the office of Governor, and the first African American woman to deliver a State of the Union response, Abrams continues to keep an eye toward the future. To that end she urges participation in the 2020 Census:

“I would tell people to not only focus on voting but also make certain they are counted in the 2020 Census for the power that will come over the next decade.”

Personal details and contact information.

  • Age: 46
  • Birthday: December 9, 1973
  • Religion: Methodist
  • Hometown: Madison, WI
  • Education: Spelman College (1995); LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin (1998); Yale Law School (1999)
  • Twitter: @staceyabrams
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Voting Related Issues: [email protected]

The Rantt Rundown

Born in Madison, Wisconsin and raised in the South, at 46 Stacey Abrams smashed multiple barriers, becoming the first African American woman in leadership in the Georgia State Assembly, the first African American woman to win a major party gubernatorial nomination, and the first African American woman to deliver a State of the Union Response. Though she narrowly lost the race for governor to Brian Kemp under contested circumstances, she used that blow to propel her work in voters’ rights forward. An author of fiction and nonfiction, Abrams also adds entrepreneurship and corporate leadership to her lengthy resume. She is the founder of Fair Fight and Fair Fight Action, groups seeking to eradicate voter suppression.

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