- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2017

Georgia state Rep. Stacey Evans, a white Democrat seeking the party’s nomination for governor, struggled to get through her speech Saturday at the Netroots Nation Conference in Atlanta as supporters of her Democratic rival, state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who is black, repeatedly shouted over her.

Ms. Abrams, who hopes to become the country’s first black female governor, was “treated like royalty” at the liberal event compared to Ms. Evans, who could barely eke out a sentence over disruptions and chants of “support black women,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

As soon as Ms. Evans started to speak, protesters fanned out in front of the stage with their backs turned to her, chanting and holding signs comparing her to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

A handout accusing Ms. Evans of siding with Ms. DeVos, a Republican, on key education issues read, “Voted FOR the bill to create the private school voucher program” and “voted FOR constitutional amendment to allow state charter schools,” The Washington Post reported.

“We’re gonna talk, ya’ll,” Ms. Evans told the rowdy audience.

“As we built resistance to President Trump — not me, to Trump — we must unite over these ideals,” she said, the Journal-Constitution reported.

Ms. Evans later criticized the protesters for refusing to let her speak.

“They have a right to be heard, but so do I,” she said. “We can’t move forward in Georgia or the country if we don’t have productive dialogue.”

Ms. Abrams, on the other hand, said she would not “condemn peaceful protest” and that the demonstrators were simply voicing their grievances over Ms. Evans’ positions on education.

“From what I observed from Savannah, activists in Atlanta peacefully protested this morning on the critical issue of preserving public education for every family in our state,” she wrote in a series of tweets Saturday. “The mantra of ‘trust black women’ is an historic endorsement of the value of bringing marginalized voices to the forefront, not a rebuke to my opponent’s race.”

The race between Ms. Abrams, who dedicated her Netroots message to mobilizing black voters, and Ms. Evans, who has focused mainly on winning back white working-class voters, has caused a divide in the state’s Democratic party, the Journal-Constitution reported.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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