Stacey Abrams is a political candidate who is ambitious, has a lot of “wants” for the country — and has a lot of debt.
In the race for Georgia governor, Abrams’ honesty about personal finances and a desire to deliver change for the state is resonating with some voters. But for Abrams, money is an unavoidable topic.
“Money controls [just] about every conversation we have the moment we get on this earth,” she said Wednesday, April 25 to a full house at Politics and Prose, a bookstore in Northwest, during an event to discuss her recently released memoir. “For those of us who have income and not wealth, our income is not our own. There is a big difference between income and wealth. That income that was for you, now becomes the income for your family. If you are a woman, the expectation is that your income will be supporting everyone and everything.”
Abrams is on a national tour for her book, “Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change,” a guide for gaining high-impact political power wrapped in a memoir about being raised in a loving family that pursued excellence from meager beginnings.
The book title has dual meaning: Abrams was House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly, making her the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and the first African American to lead the state House of Representatives.
Abrams said that a woman’s income is layered with impediments because it is less than a man. She also says her life is one where she has “been down that hole,” the place where many voters find themselves.
“That’s why I want to be governor, because I know what it is like to know how you’re going to make that mortgage payment,” she said. “I know what it is like to have a brother who has challenges and troubles you know you can help him with. You know that by helping him, you have to delay something you really need.”
The Georgia primary is on May 22, but early voting is underway. In what’s been billed as the “Battle of the Staceys,” Abrams currently leads her opponent Stacey Evans by 20 points.
Things are moving fast for Abrams, who has been endorsed her state’s U.S. Reps. John Lewis, David Scott and Hank Johnson, as well as many state political leaders. She also has garnered support from key labor groups and political advocacy groups.
From her research on navigating the political landscape, Abrams looked at Black women who have run for top political positions. She wanted to figure out where she fit in the challenging process of running for office.
“I had to cobble together stories to figure out what I could be, what I should seek and why I have the freedom to want these things,” she said.
Abrams told the audience the book is about ambition.
“Too often, we are told our ambition is too lofty, but worse, we are told to never have them,” she said. “It’s never said that explicitly. There is never a ‘you can’t dream.’ There’s just a caution on your dream.”
With degrees from Spelman College, the University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs and Yale Law School, Abrams said she desires to provide pathways to show what is possible for Georgia residents.
Her campaign platform focuses on racial justice, economic inequality, LGBT rights and gender discrimination. She also advocates for equal pay for women, providing state dollars to entrepreneurs to start local businesses with a focus on rural and low-income communities.
Abrams also want to provide better health care for the working poor by expanding Medicaid coverage, as well as securing the Affordable Care Act in Georgia to benefit an additional half-million people in the state.
Abrams said her book is part of her push to forge a new path for political advancement.
“I stand in the space where other people need support,” she said. “With ‘Minority Leader,’ I’m coming for all of us because we have a job to do.”