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Legislative records dominate Democratic gubernatorial debate
05162018 DEBATE
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidates and former state representatives Stacey Abrams, left, and Stacey Evans listen to questions during a debate Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis) - photo by Associated Press

ATLANTA — With exactly one week before Georgia's May 22 primary election, two Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls squared off in a heated debate as they made their final appeals to voters.

Former state Rep. Stacey Evans and former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, both Atlanta-area attorneys, took each other to task Tuesday evening over their respective legislative records and how they have affected the poor and middle class.

Evans continued to press Abrams over her record on HOPE scholarships, an issue that has been a centerpiece of Evans', who attended college through HOPE, campaign.

Evans accused Abrams of "co-authoring cuts" to the scholarship program that lead to a reduction of those who qualified for it.

Abrams pushed back, saying that HOPE was "alive and well" and still available to families across the state that need it.

For her part, Abrams went after Evans for her legislative record on public education, saying that she supported "voucher" programs that provide state funded scholarships for private school tuition, taking resources from public schools.

Evans shot back saying that Abrams was distorting her record and that "there are no vouchers in Georgia."

The two candidates largely agreed on their policy aims around gun control, with both advocating for stricter limitations, and expanding transit.

Either candidate would be the first woman to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Georgia and, if elected in November, the first female governor of the state.

During a part of the debate where the candidates got to ask each other questions, Abrams asked Evans what it meant to her for the two major Democratic contenders to be women.

"What would you say to young girls watching this about what has been the best part to share this opportunity," Abrams asked.

"It is very exciting to think about the example that we are able to provide for little girls and boys all over the state that women can rise and lead the state," Evans said.

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