Stacey Evans is interrupted by protesters at her Netroots Nation speech. AJC/Greg Bluestein

Democrat Stacey Evans’ speech to a conference of progressive activists descended into chaos on Saturday, as protesters interrupted her repeatedly and she struggled to make herself heard over chants of “support black women.”

Evans, a Smyrna state legislator who is white, expected a tough audience at the Netroots Nation event, where her rival Stacey Abrams has had rockstar status. But she didn’t seem prepared for the outraged welcome she received.

Almost as soon as she took the stage, a ring of demonstrators – some holding stark signs criticizing her – fanned out in front of Evans. Pleading repeatedly for the chanting to stop – “let’s talk through it,” she implored – the demonstrators at times overwhelmed her speech.

It underscored the intense level of vitriol already rocking the race for governor.

Abrams, seeking to be the nation’s first black female governor, has embraced a staunchly progressive platform and has pledged to mobilize a legion of minority voters who rarely cast ballots. Evans wants to rebuild a tattered coalition of liberals, working-class voters and suburbanites who have steadily spurned the party for the GOP.

The two have divided the state’s party, each divvying up endorsements from high-profile politicians and support from key advocacy groups that doesn’t cleave to racial lines. Evans enjoys backing from several prominent black politicians, while Abrams has a…