Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams sparked excitement among many progressives around the country with her announcement over the weekend that she is running for governor.

Abrams has been the top Democrat in the Georgia House since 2010 – the first woman and the first African American to hold the post. She would make history again if voters choose her as term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal’s successor: She would be the first Black governor in Georgia and the first African-American woman to become a governor in the U.S.

Abrams, 43, has represented portions of metro Atlanta since 2007.

She launched her campaign at a rally in Albany, a community that she said reminds her of her Mississippi upbringing. The kickoff in Albany, a 150-mile drive outside of vote-rich Atlanta, was meant to symbolize not only her connection with rural Georgians but also the dichotomy in her own family.

Her sister Leslie Abrams, the first black female federal judge in Georgia, lives and works in Albany. Her brother Walter, whom she has spoken little of publicly, is serving a prison sentence stemming from a drug addiction and a long-undiagnosed mental illness.

“I want a state that lifts up Walter and lifts up Leslie – and treats both as our children and our possibilities,” she said. “And I want to believe that when Walter finally returns, he’ll have the same opportunities for success that anyone has.”

Her parents struggled with poverty while raising Abrams and her five siblings in Gulfport, Miss. The family later moved to Atlanta, and Abrams graduated from Spelman College and Yale Law School. She is also an author and writes romance novels under the pen name “Selena Montgomery.”

In a state where Democrats have struggled to close a persistent gap, victory is far from certain. Not even the path to her party’s nomination is certain. State Rep. Stacey Evans already has launched a campaign that could splinter Georgia Democrats.

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