Stacey Abrams, a Democrat running for governor of Georgia, is pushing back on a financial disclosure report that revealed the candidate is more than $200,000 in debt – an obstacle she says should not disqualify her from the race.
“I am in debt, but I am not alone. Debt is a millstone that weighs down more than three-quarters of Americans,” Abrams wrote in an op-ed for Fortune. “It can determine whether we are able to run for office, to launch a business, to quit a job we hate. But it should not—and cannot—be a disqualification for ambition.”
Although she secured a nearly six-figure salary as a lawyer, Abrams revealed debt piled up from student loans as well caring for her parents, who adopted her brother’s baby because he suffered from drug addiction. Abrams graduated from Yale Law School.
“Paying the bills for two households has taken its toll. Nearly twenty years after graduating, I am still paying down student loans, and am on a payment plan to settle my debt to the IRS,” Abram wrote.
Abrams cited race, gender and economic upbringing as contributing factors that determine financial stability, and how “money dictates nearly step of social mobility from the very first moments of life.”
According to a study from the Pew Charitable Trusts, 80 percent of Americans have some form of debt, with the most common burden being mortgages. While data from the U.S. Labor Department from 2017 indicated women who worked full time earned on average 82 percent of what their male counterparts made.
The 44-year-old owes the IRS more than $50,000 in deferred tax payments, and over $170,000 in credit card and student loan debt – an amount she said she is determined to pay off.
“I have made money mistakes, but I have never ignored my responsibilities; I will meet my obligations—however slowly but surely,” Abrams wrote, while noting financial mistakes “don’t have to be fatal to our dreams.”
Abrams, who previously held the position of Georgia’s House minority leader, would be America’s first-ever black female governor if she can secure the victory in the state’s gubernatorial election in November. She will first have to beat her Democratic opponent Stacey Evans in the primary election on May 22, 2018.