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Georgia 2018: John Lewis endorses Stacey Abrams' bid for governor

WASHINGTON -- Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis endorsed Stacey Abrams on Monday, providing a notable boost to the former Georgia House minority leader's history-making gubernatorial bid.

The civil rights icon and longtime Atlanta congressman said Abrams, 43, is "the only leader" with “the experience and an ambitious vision to uplift all families." He said Abrams' run represented an opportunity for Georgia to become “a model for our nation.”

Abrams is seeking to become the country's first black female governor. She faces Democratic state Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna in next year’s primary to replace term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal.

“Georgia must seize the opportunity to be a model for our nation by electing this transformative leader, who strives to empower the people she will serve,” Lewis said in a statement.

Abrams has worked to build a strong national following, which was reflected in her most recent campaign filing. She founded a voter registration group, the New Georgia Project, that aims to register hundreds of thousands of left-leaning voters, but it has also come under scrutiny for its tactics and results.

Abrams already had the endorsement of one Georgia congressman, Hank Johnson of Decatur. Former Gov. Roy Barnes has endorsed Evans.

Lewis' announcement may have a precedent. In the 2008 presidential contest, Lewis had already pledged himself to Hillary Clinton when Barack Obama's campaign began to take off. Ultimately, extreme pressure from black voters in the Fifth District persuaded Lewis to switch sides.

Abrams is already making an effort to make her campaign a cause celebre. From the Washington Post:

“Get in Formation,” a campaign launched this week by three black political action committees, hopes to recruit more women like Peoples to pledge their personal and financial capital to help Abrams in her history-making quest. The effort will primarily be run online via a website and social media.

The road ahead for either Democrat will be tough in Georgia, which has been led by Republicans since 2002. Four GOP candidates are in the race so far: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sens. Hunter Hill and Michael Williams.

Read more: Georgia 2018: Who is running to be Georgia’s next governor

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.