Politics

Abrams Hints at Challenging Kemp in 2022: ‘We Won’ But I’m Not the Governor ‘Yet’

'We don't have to concede elections anymore'

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Democrat Stacey Abrams gave a seeming glimpse of her political future Friday in Texas, repeating her claim she "won" the Georgia governor's race but saying she isn't the actual governor "yet."

The same week she said she wouldn't challenge Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) in 2020, Abrams spoke at a progressive women's luncheon in Houston and appeared to hint at another run against Governor Brian Kemp (R.) in 2022.

"I'm here to tell you a secret that makes Breitbart and Tucker Carlson go crazy: We won," she said, according to Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek. She added she wasn't delusional and knew she wasn't the governor "possibly yet."

She also said, "We don't have to concede elections anymore, because when we concede, we are condoning systems that are used to oppress us."

It could also be a sign that Abrams won't run for president in 2020, another decision she has publicly mulled over since her close loss in 2018 made her a Democratic star. Abrams hinted in a recent interview that an executive position was more suited to her talents than being one of 100 U.S. Senators.

Abrams has refused to officially concede to Kemp, who was secretary of state before being elected last year to replace term-limited GOP governor Nathan Deal. Abrams, who lost by about 55,000 votes, has claimed Kemp engaged in systematic voter suppression and said the election was neither free nor fair. She's repeatedly said she "won" the race, and prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), and Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) have said she was cheated.

Several news sites have conducted fact-checks that undercut her claims, such as blaming Kemp for rural precinct closings and criticizing him for enforcing removal of inactive voters from the rolls.

Abrams was heavily recruited by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to challenge Perdue, a top Democratic target in a bid in the next cycle. Her decision not to run creates a wide-open field for the state party's nomination, since Abrams would likely have waltzed to the nomination with her formidable campaign infrastructure and name recognition.

Abrams's speech in Texas bridged two states Democrats have salivated over for decades but haven't been able to swing into their column. Georgia hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992, and Texas hasn't done so since Jimmy Carter won in 1976.

No Democrat has won a statewide election in Georgia since Zell Miller, the former governor, won a Senate seat in 2000. Miller had been appointed to the position that same year after the death of Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell, and Miller wound up speaking at the 2004 Republican National Convention on behalf of President George W. Bush.

Abrams won more votes than any Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia history, but it wasn't enough for her to be the first to win since Roy Barnes in 1998.

Only Republicans have won Texas governor's races in the 24 years since Bush knocked off Ann Richards in 1994. The last Democrat to be elected to the U.S. Senate in Texas was Lloyd Bentsen in 1988.