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2018 Midterms

In the Hot Seat: Stacey Abrams and Lupe Valdez Make History

The Georgia and Texas gubernatorial primaries are just the tip of the iceberg.

Nicole Kitchens

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Despite being a historically red state, Georgia made some left leaning history last week by nominating the first black woman ever chosen as a major party candidate in a gubernatorial race. Having defeated her Democratic opponent, Stacey Evans, Stacey Abrams is planning to test just how long Georgia’s red streak can last.

Abrams, 44, is a Yale graduate who has a myriad of career paths under her belt as a State House leader, a small business owner and even the author of a series of romance novels, which she wrote under the pseudonym Selena Montgomery. Her nomination signals major changes for politics under the Trump era for women and minorities, the both of which President Trump has managed to estrange during his term so far.

Abrams in 2012 during her term as Georgia state rep. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

In an op-ed piece written for Fortune back in April, Abrams also capitalized on the wage gap between genders and races while openly defending her own personal financial history against claims that her debt should disqualify her nomination. Touching on the racial and gender-based roles that determine financial drawbacks, she managed to strike a chord with those facing the “systemic biases, legacy barriers, and current explosions of inequality” that are constantly being thrown at various demographics in the country.

Women are running in significant numbers this year with 394 running for the House and 56 running in governor’s races. And while Abrams has certainly changed the game for black women in politics, Lupe Valdez is making history for the LBGTQ community. The former Dallas County Sheriff became the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, making her the first major party nominee to be openly lesbian. She told supporters during her post-victory statement that her victory proves “that no matter who you are, where you are from, or who you love — in this state, you’ve got a fighting chance.”

Valdez has also made it extremely clear, after securing her spot in the nomination, that her Republican incumbent Greg Abbott, who is seeking a second term as the governor of Texas, is “a puppet for the President” due to his open favor for Trump’s border policies. In return, Trump has expressed his support for Abbott’s re-election.

These victories are making waves by being justly progressive and constantly changing from traditional ideals to ensure a better future for all citizens, regardless of orientation, gender, or race. Abrams and Valdez are off to a good start in ensuring that this change will eventually come. 

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

Nicole Kitchens is a Journalism major at the University of South Carolina. She is an avid music writer and once received an Instagram like from Keith Richards -- she hasn’t stopped talking about it since. To read more of her reviews and features, visit her blog: https://www.theelectricblonde.com/. Also, follow her Hunter-Thompson-esque adventures on Instagram: @nicolekitchens

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