Abrams: 'Fair Observation' That I've Been More Enthused About Being an Executive Than a Senator

April 17, 2019

Stacey Abrams acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that she's long been more enthused about taking on an executive position like governor or president than being "one of 100" U.S. Senators.

Abrams, who fell short in her bid for Georgia governor in 2018 but became a national progressive darling along the way, is being recruited by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to challenge Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.), who is up for reelection in 2020. Abrams has expressed strong disappointment at losing to Republican governor Brian Kemp, who she has accused of systematically suppressing thousands of voters and essentially rigging his own victory, and she has considered challenging him again in 2022. She's also mulling joining the crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

Fox 5 Atlanta anchor Russ Spencer said he'd observed Abrams during her busy interview tour promoting her 2018 book Minority Leader, and he said it seemed she was "more excited" about holding an executive position than joining the U.S. Senate.

"It seems to me that you're much more excited about being an executive, a governor or president, than about being one of 100 senators," Spencer said. "Is that a fair observation?"

"That's a fair observation that I've focused most of my work on the executive side, and there is more immediate return on the work that I need to do," Abrams said. "But having served in the legislative body, I understand how important a senator can be, and that's really what I'm grappling with. A U.S. Senator has a very specific opportunity to articulate issues, to speak to a national audience, and to have effect, to move legislation but also to move issues.

"So while I've never thought about the legislative process on the national level, I'd never thought about running for the Senate, I have wanted to give myself time to really think about what that looks like. I'm a bit of a planner, and so part of my process has been really pushing through what would this look like, how would I leverage this position and this platform. But it is different. I've long been thinking about the executive side, not the legislative side."

Abrams agreed with Spencer that would have been ideal to serve two terms as governor and then face no question of her qualifications to be president. She said she was "absolutely" qualified for the presidency.

"The job of being the leader of the United States is one of having the insight to understand what challenges we face, the management capacity to not only manage a Cabinet but to hire the right people, a very strong familiarity with our foreign policy but the ability again to hire experts who can do a deeper dive, and to have a deep love of this country that's matched with an intellectual capacity to lead it, and I have those things," she said.

Abrams has unusually high unfavorable ratings despite being out of office; a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution poll showed 45 percent of Georgians rating her unfavorably and 45 percent rating her favorably. Perdue sat at 47 percent favorable against just 25 percent unfavorable in the same survey.