Stacey Abrams is what the Washington Post describes as "a Yale-trained lawyer and business executive who writes romance novels on the side," but pending the results of Georgia's upcoming gubernatorial election we could be referring to her variously as that state's first black governor or the nation's first black woman governor. Abrams, the 43-year-old House minority leader who's seen as a rising star and the future of the Democratic party, enters the race as the frontrunner for the nomination, but faces no walk in the park on the way to the governor's mansion: No Democrat has won statewide office in Georgia since 2006, notes the Post. "Georgia is ready for a Democratic governor. My success demonstrates that difference doesn’t have to be a barrier," Abrams told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Southern politicians have to reject a notion that difference is a barrier and that we can’t all be committed to progress and equality."
Abrams is known for her willingness to work with Republicans—sometimes to an extent that makes her left-leaning brethren uncomfortable. "Sometimes fighting for Georgians means working with the other side," she says. "I’m willing to risk my leadership to make certain that Georgians get what they need from their government." She is not, however, the only woman Democrat eyeing the governor's mansion: Rep. Stacey Evans, who is white, is also in the running to replace term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal. Both women have similar rags-to-riches backstories. But Abrams seems to have a will that finds a way: The Post notes that her career in writing romance books began when publishers weren't interested in a black heroine in the spy novel she wanted to write. "So I made my spy fall in love," Abrams says. (Read more Stacey Abrams stories.)