ATLANTA, GA — Two weeks from Election Day, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is under fire for an incident in 1992 in which she burned a Georgia state flag. Abrams, seeking to become the nation’s first African-American female governor in history, burned the flag as a symbol of her opposition to Confederate symbolism. The demonstration took place on the steps of the Georgia state capitol while the future lawmaker was still at Spelman College.
Abrams’ involvement in the incident has come to light only hours before she is set to debate her GOP opponent, Brian Kemp, in the first of two statewide televised debates. Georgia’s governor’s race is arguably the nation’s most watched gubernatorial contest, and virtually every poll conducted over the last month have shown the race to be razor thin.
In a statement to CNN, Abrams’ campaign said that her actions in college were part of a “permitted, peaceful protest against the Confederate emblem in the flag.”
“During Stacey Abrams’ college years, Georgia was at a crossroads, struggling with how to overcome racially divisive issues, including symbols of the Confederacy, the sharpest of which was the inclusion of the Confederate emblem in the Georgia state flag,” the statement said. “This conversation was sweeping across Georgia as numerous organizations, prominent leaders, and students engaged in the ultimately successful effort to change the flag. Abrams’ time in public service as deputy city attorney and as a state legislative leader have all been focused on bringing people together to solve problems.”
At the time of the protest, Georgia’s state flag still contained an image of the Confederate battle flag, an image that was added to the state’s banner in 1956 as a symbol of opposition to federally mandated integration. It was changed under the leadership of Gov. Roy Barnes in the late 1990s in a move that arguably led to Barnes’ re-election defeat in 2002 at the hands of Sonny Perdue, who became Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction.
Control of Congress and the future of Donald Trump’s presidency are on the line as the 2018 midterms enter their final two weeks, leading to an Election Day that will test Democrats’ ability to harness opposition to Trump and determine whether the Republican president can get his supporters to the polls. For both parties, the stakes are exceedingly high.
Georgia is widely considered to be a bellwether state to determine whether Democrats can hope to retake control of a state that has been solidly in GOP control since 2002.
Here’s a look at recent developments in Georgia’s nationally watched races:
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Georgia Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams takes the stage to declare victory in the primary during an election night event on May 22, 2018 in Atlanta. If elected, Abrams would become the first African American female governor in the nation. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)