Former President Jimmy Carter isn't picking sides in Georgia's race for governor, but he's now met with both Democratic candidates vying to succeed Republican Nathan Deal.
State Rep. Stacey Evans tweeted pictures of her family breaking bread with the former president and his wife Rosalynn at a home in Plains and at Maranatha Baptist Church, where he still teaches Sunday school classes.
Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia House Minority Leader, spent time with Carter at a July dinner in Americus for the Boys and Girls Club.
A spokeswoman for the ex-president previously said in a statement he is not endorsing either candidate and that his plan is “to support the Democratic nominee.”
Abrams and Evans are in a fierce competition for the party’s nomination. Evans has cemented support from former Gov. Roy Barnes and glowing remarks from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, while Abrams notched the endorsement of Rep. John Lewis and several prominent left-leaning groups.
Most other Democratic heavyweights – including Carter’s grandson Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 nominee – are staying on the sidelines for now.
Democrats hope to win back the governor’s mansion for the first time since Barnes’ 2002 defeat, but first they must put to rest a bitter divide over competing strategies that has split the party.
Abrams hopes her progressive policies will mobilize a legion of left-leaning voters, many of them minorities, who rarely vote. Evans wants to recapture working-class and suburban voters who once voted solidly for Democrats with a platform centered on bolstering the HOPE scholarship.
Four Republicans are in the contest: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and state Sen. Michael Williams.
More recent AJC coverage of the governor’s race: