Democrat Stacey Abrams holds a news conference Tuesday to announce she has qualified to run for Georgia governor.
Bob Andres, AP

WASHINGTON — Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams won the Democratic primary Tuesday, bringing her a step closer to becoming the nation’s first African-American woman governor.

In one of the night’s closely watched primaries, the former state House minority leader beat former state Rep. Stacey Evans, the Associated Press announced.

“We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s future where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired,” Abrams said during a rousing speech at her post-election party. “We are writing a history of a Georgia where we prosper together.”

In the GOP gubernatorial primary, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp advanced to a runoff on July 24. The candidates needed 50% of the vote, plus one ballot, to avoid a runoff election. Georgia state Sen. Michael Williams, the GOP candidate who made headlines with his "deportation bus," only received 5% of the vote.

The candidates are vying to replace Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who is term-limited. 

Georgia has elected Republican governors since 2003 and the state voted for President Trump, albeit with just over 50% of the vote. The state has never elected a woman governor.

Several progressive groups endorsed Abrams in the primary along with 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.  Clinton recorded a robo-call for her the day before the election.

Georgia was one of four states with elections Tuesday night. Kentucky and Arkansas also held primaries while Texas held a primary runoff election.

Here are some other notable elections:

Retired Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot, is seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress in Kentucky's 6th District.
Mark Nickolas, AP

Kentucky

Retired Marine lieutenant colonel Amy McGrath, a political newcomer, convincingly beat Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a millionaire businessman, by 8 percentage points in the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District, which includes Lexington.

She will face GOP Rep. Andy Barr, who has held the seat since 2013 and easily won his primary.

McGrath gained a national profile last year with an introductory ad that went viral. The Naval Academy graduate and former fighter pilot described her 89 combat missions after her congressman told her when she was 13 that women shouldn’t be allowed to serve in combat.

Gray launched an ad Friday attacking her for only having recently moved to the district. McGrath called the move "a last-minute attack ad against my 20 years of military service that took me away from my Kentucky home."

Democrats see a pickup opportunity in the district, which has switched party control five times since 1979.

Gray, who launched his campaign after McGrath, "received encouragement" to run from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the House campaign arm — and members of Congress because of his "proven ability as a candidate," said his campaign manager, Jamie Emmons. Gray, the first openly gay mayor in Kentucky, carried the district when he unsuccessfully challenged Republican Sen. Rand Paul for his seat in 2016.

Following the results, DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján, who represents New Mexico, quickly got behind McGrath, saying she ran a "tremendous race" and "there is no question that Amy McGrath is ready to flip this key district."

In other closely watched races:

• Kentucky state House Republican Leader Jonathan Shell lost his re-election bid in a primary to a teacher, R. Travis Brenda — results that may signal the energized voting power of teachers following education protests at state capitols, the Louisville Courier Journal reports.

• A gay man in eastern Kentucky lost his bid to challenge a Republican county clerk who went to jail three years ago for denying him and others marriage licenses in the aftermath of an historic U.S. Supreme Court decision.

David Ermold lost the Democratic nomination for county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky. Elwood Caudill will now challenge Kim Davis, the religious conservative who said in 2015 “God’s authority” prevented her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Arkansas

State Rep. Clarke Tucker, a lawyer and young cancer survivor, won a four-way Democratic primary for the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Little Rock.

Tucker, who has put health care at the center of his campaign, is included in the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program for top tier candidates. He announced this week the endorsement of three members of the “Little Rock Nine,” the black students who federal troops escorted to school in 1957 after the governor used the National Guard to block their entry.

Arkansas’ congressional delegation is all Republican. Still, Democrats are targeting the seat held by GOP Rep. French Hill, who served in President George H. W. Bush’s administration and was elected to Congress in 2014. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates this race “lean Republican” while all others are rated “solid Republican.”

Former Rep. Vic Snyder, who retired in 2011, was the last Democrat to hold the seat.

Georgia

Gun-control activist Lucy McBath and consulting firm co-founder Kevin Abel will advance to a Democratic runoff primary on July 24 in their bids to unseat GOP Rep. Karen Handel, last year's winner of the most expensive House race in history.

Democrat Jon Ossof lost to Handel in a special election last June by only 4 percentage points in the 6th Congressional District, where President Trump won in 2016 by 1.5 percentage points.

The district including the northern suburbs of Atlanta has been in Republican control since 1979, when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich held the seat. It became vacant last year when former Rep. Tom Price left to become Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary, a position he left after criticism for his use of private charters and military aircraft for travel.

It is the state’s most competitive congressional district, rated “lean Republican” by Cook Political Report.

Texas

House Democrats, who need a net gain of 23 seats to win the majority, are eyeing possible pickup opportunities in three Texas Congressional districts where Clinton won in 2016. 

Gina Ortiz Jones, who served as an Air Force intelligence officer in Iraq, bested high school teacher Rick Trevino in the state's Democratic runoff primary for the 23rd Congressional District, located in the western part of the state along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Ortiz Jones would be Texas’ first openly LGBTQ person of color elected to Congress, according to the Human Rights Campaign, if she were to beat GOP Rep. Will Hurd, a former CIA officer, in November. Ortiz Jones was endorsed by Emily’s List and is in the DCCC’s Red to Blue program, while Trevino was endorsed by Our Revolution, the activist spinoff organization of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

Lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher resoundingly beat writer and organizer Laura Moser in in the 7th Congressional District runoff, another race that divided Democrats — stunningly so. In February, the DCCC took the extraordinary step of releasing opposition research against Moser, infuriating liberals who endorsed her and argued Washington Democrats were interfering with the will of voters.

Fletcher now faces Republican Rep. John Culberson. It’s the only race in Texas that Cook Political Report rates a “toss up.”

Civil rights attorney and former NFL linebacker Colin Allred beat former Obama administration official Lillian Salerno in the 32nd Congressional District’s runoff primary.

Allred, who played for the Tennessee Titans, will face GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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