A former Georgia lawmaker and author has taken a major step towards becoming the first ever African-American female governor of a US state.
Stacey Abrams won the Democratic party primary on Tuesday, telling voters that trying to “convert” Republicans into Democrats has previously failed.
A Democrat has not held the red state’s governor’s mansion since 2003.
Ms Abrams, 44, will face a Republican candidate in the high-stakes mid-term contest in November.
Lt Gov Casey Cagle won the Republican primary on Tuesday, and will face Georgia’s secretary of state Brian Kemp in a run off on 24 July to decide her eventual opponent.
If elected in the deeply conservative state, Ms Abrams would become the first woman and the first person from an ethnic minority to lead the southern state.
The US currently has six female governors, including two Democrats and four Republicans, in Alabama, Iowa, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon and Rhode Island.
Ms Abrams prevailed over Stacey Evans, a 40-year-old state representative, with three quarters of the vote.
Familiar with ‘first’
Ms Abrams was raised in Gulfport, Mississippi, with her five siblings.
She moved to Atlanta as a teenager with her parents, a college librarian and shipyard worker, who attended Emory University to study divinity and become United Methodist ministers.
It was in Georgia where she made her mark with a number of historic achievements.
She became the first African American female valedictorian of her high school before earning her undergraduate degree from Spelman College. She also received a master’s degree from the University of Texas and a law degree from Yale University.
Ms Abrams was first elected to the Georgia state House of Representatives in 2006, and would later become the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly as well as the first African American to lead the state’s House of Representatives.
She has been considered a rising star among her party’s progressive wing, taking centre stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
She gave a rousing speech on economic inequality, drawing on her own experience, and her full-throated support for then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.