Gillum, Abrams will impact Southern Dems for decades, says Melissa Harris-Perry

Former talk show host Melissa Harris-Perry said on Tuesday that Democratic gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum (Fla.) and Stacey Abrams (Ga.) will change the way Democrats campaign in the South for decades to come. 

"Gillum, no matter what, they have changed the idea that Democrats should not be fighting for these seats in the South, and that's going to have 25 years of impact," Harris-Perry told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on Hill.TV's election night coverage. 

"Abrams has built a whole Democratic Party machine in Georgia," Harris-Perry said. "In the sense that there are Democrats here, here's what they look like, here's how you excite them, here's how you get them out.

"What we're going to see in Georgia, whether Abrams takes it at the statewide level or not, we're going to see the results of her work literally for a decade," she continued. 

Abrams will be the first African-American female governor in the country if she defeats Republican Brian Kemp, while Gillum will be the first African-American governor of Florida if he defeats former Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGillum launches voter-registration campaign Republicans need solutions on environment too Republicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump MORE (R).

The two candidates have given Democrats newfound hope in traditionally red states that were both won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE in 2016.

They have also been the focus of attacks from Trump, who has campaigned heavily for Republicans in the midterm campaign. 

Trump said last week that Abrams was “not qualified” to become Georgia's governor, and has referred to Gillum as a thief, which critics have called a racist attack. 

— Julia Manchester