ATLANTA, GA—Georgia Democrats Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans on Monday took the stage together for the first time in their bids to become governor, tackling issues ranging from health care to gun control in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Abrams and Evans, both former state lawmakers, are vying in the Democrat primary for the chance to wrest control of the state’s highest political office away from the Republican Party in 2018. If either wins, she would become the first woman to hold the governor’s office in Georgia.
“The first responsibility is to acknowledge that we have a problem,” said Abrams, after fielding a question about gun violence. “Unfortunately, there have been too many acts of political cowardice in the wake of gun violence,” she said, noting the carnage in Las Vegas. “We also have to think about the families in Chicago, Atlanta, in D.C., and in small places we’ve never heard of, where families cower in the dark because someone with a weapon is terrorizing their children.”
Abrams pointed out that assault weapons are legal in Georgia. “We have to take action, and we have to take that action now,” she said. “There is no time to wait.”
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After condemning the mass shooting in Las Vegas as an “act of domestic terrorism,” Evans criticized Georgia’s new concealed campus carry law. She called allowing guns on campus “wrong,” suggesting the law “hurts recruitment of teachers and students.” Arguing that campus-carry advocates used misinformation to claim the measure would improve campus safety, Evans vowed to rely on facts to determine policy.
“When I’m governor, we’re going to run the government based on science and data,” Evans said, as she called for proper gun training and closing loopholes in the background-check system.
The event was hosted by Georgia’s WIN List, a political action committee that seeks to elect women to office in Georgia “who will be effective advocates for the issues most important to women and families, including the preservation of our reproductive rights.” The event was moderated by former Secretary of State Cathy Cox. Though the organization has promised not to endorse in the Democratic primary, it has vowed to support either candidate in the general election.
“Both women are brilliant attorneys and strong advocates for the protection of reproductive freedom and equality for women,” explains the organization’s website. “We expect a robust Democratic primary and look forward to following the will of Georgia citizens and forcefully promoting the primary winner against a Republican opponent in November 2018.”
Evans and Abrams sparred on various issues, including their records on public education and Abrams’ response to protests during Evans’ planned speech at this year’s Netroots Nation conference.