State Rep. Stacey Evans is exploring a run for Georgia governor, setting up what could be a potentially divisive Democratic primary for the state’s top job in 2018, according to two people with direct knowledge of her discussions.
The Smyrna Democrat is said to be “seriously” considering joining a Democratic contest that is also expected to feature House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. Evans declined to comment, though she said last year she was eyeing a potential statewide run.
Evans is the go-to Democrat in the House on the push to restore funding that had been cut from the state’s HOPE scholarship program.
This year, she has been one of her party’s leading opponents to a move to ban strip state funding for private colleges that won’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The Ringgold native is also the first in her family to graduate from college, and she used her share in a massive whistleblower settlement she helped litigate to create a $500,000 scholarship for first-generation graduates at the University of Georgia’s law school.
Her exploration of a gubernatorial bid reflects the uneasiness that some party leaders have with Abrams as the party’s potential nominee. Though Abrams is a fundraising dynamo with a national profile, some Democrats have criticized her strategy and tactics.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and several Democratic strategists have publicly called on former Acting U.S. Attorney Sally Yates to run. And former Gov. Roy Barnes said in an interview on Wednesday that he would support a comeback bid from Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 nominee.
“If Jason Carter runs again,” said Barnes, “I’m for Jason Carter.”
It’s unlikely that both Carter and Evans will join the Democratic race; the two are allies and both are also close with Barnes.
A parallel struggle is happening across the aisle as some Republicans uncomfortable with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle – the GOP’s presumptive front-runner – are searching for other contenders.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp has already signaled he’s joining the race, and a half-dozen other Republicans are exploring a run.