Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said she accepts that Brian Kemp will be certified as the winner of the governor’s race on Friday, but she also used the moment to call Democratic voters to action in future elections.
Abrams made it clear that while she believed she had exhausted efforts to force a recount or runoff in the governor’s race, she was not going to necessarily concede. She said the state failed voters in Georgia by not ensuring the election was free of issues, such as a missing power cord for a machine used at one polling precinct in Gwinnett County.
“I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” Abrams said. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in the state … pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.
“So let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”
Abrams’ move brings an end to the prolonged fight to see whether Georgia’s gubernatorial race would go to a runoff. Kemp’s margin of victory over Abrams was 50.22 percent to 48.83 percent, with 54,801 votes separating them as of Thursday night.
Abrams’ campaign has worked on several legal efforts to get additional provisional and absentee ballots counted in recent weeks, and particularly since Election Day.
“I can certainly bring a new case to keep this one contest alive, but I don’t want to hold public office if I need to scheme my way into the post, because the title of governor isn’t nearly as important as a our shared title: voters,” Abrams said. “That is why we fight on.”
Kemp turned his attention toward the transition of power from Gov. Nathan Deal to himself. Kemp will be sworn in as Georgia’s next governor in January. He had nothing but praise for Abrams, however, in a statement issued after the former state House Minority Leader delivered her speech.
“Moments ago, Stacey Abrams conceded the race and officially ended her campaign for governor,” Kemp said in a statement. “I appreciate her passion, hard work and commitment to public service. The election is over, and hardworking Georgians are ready to move forward.
“We can no longer dwell on the divisive politics of the past but must focus on Georgia’s bright and promising future.”
But Abrams sounded the alarm bell on elections integrity in Georgia on Friday. She announced she is launching a new organization called Fair Fight Georgia to ensure fair elections in the state.
That group is expected to soon file a “major federal lawsuit” against the state over the way the general election was managed, Abrams said.
“We will channel the work of the past several weeks into a strong legal demand for reform of our elections systems in Georgia, and I will not waiver in my commitment, a lived commitment, to work across party lines and across divisions to find a common purpose in protecting our democracy,” Abrams said.
And while she will not continue her fight to become governor, Abrams is turning her attention to getting Democratic Party Secretary of State candidate John Barrow elected in the upcoming runoff for that seat in December.
Barrow and Republican candidate Brad Raffensperger will face each other in the Dec. 4 runoff election.