Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who nearly became the first black woman to ever be elected as governor, will give the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address next week.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced in a press conference that he had picked Abrams to give the response, calling her “a great spokesperson.”
“Three weeks ago, I called Stacey Abrams and asked her to deliver the response. I was very delighted when she agreed,” Schumer said. “She has led the charge for voting rights, which is at the root of just about everything else.”
Following Schumer’s announcement, Abrams tweeted, “At a moment when our nation needs to hear from leaders who can unite for a common purpose, I am honored to be delivering the Democratic State of the Union response.”
Abrams first rose to national prominence during her 2018 gubernatorial bid, which she ultimately lost by a narrow margin to Republican Brian Kemp, who has been accused of waging a brutal campaign of vote suppression during his tenure as Georgia’s secretary of state — one that disproportionately targeted the state’s black population. During the race, Abrams pushed the issue of voter suppression into the national conversation; in her moving non-concession speech, she harshly criticized Kemp’s tactics and announced her intention to keep fighting for free and fair elections.
Throughout her campaign, Abrams advocated for other progressive policies as well, including comprehensive criminal-justice reform and expanded Medicaid, garnering the support of everyone from young black millenials to white conservatives who had never voted for a Democrat and becoming a rising star in the party along the way.
Abrams’s address will follow President Trump’s on February 5 — over a week after the original intended date of the address; the event was postponed due to the government shutdown, following a tense back-and-forth between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump.