ATLANTA - Stacey Abrams announced on Wednesday she plans to run again for Georgia governor. Without serious competition in a Democratic primary, the announcement sets up a likely rematch between Abrams and incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
She made the announcement in a tweet that reads: "I’m running for Governor because opportunity in our state shouldn’t be determined by zip code, background or access to power."
Abrams also posted a video titled "One Georgia' which outlines her plan to build a "stronger Georgia."
In the video, Abrams touches on medical debt, vaccinations, and small businesses.
"Opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn’t be determined by your zip code, background or access to power," Abrams said. "For the past four years, when the hardest times hit us all, I’ve worked to do my part to help families make it through. My job has been to just put my head down and keep working — toward One Georgia."
Abrams has been the presumptive Democratic candidate after narrowly losing the governor's race to Brian Kemp in 2018. Since then, she has been working with her voter rights organization Fair Fight, which raised more than $100 million and built a statewide political operation that registered hundreds of thousands of new voters in Georgia
Abrams is hoping that the recent wave of Democratic victories, including the elections of Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, and Rep.
Carolyn Bourdeaux, is a sign that Georgia could be ready to flip Blue. Her performance and subsequent organization also convinced Joe Biden to invest heavily in the state in 2020, and he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture it since 1992. The party later won a narrow Senate majority after victories in two special elections in the state.
Georgia remains narrowly divided, and voters often reject the president's party during the first election of their presidency. But in abandoning nods at centrism, Abrams insists Democrats can attract new voters, including recent transplants to the booming Atlanta area, Black voters who hadn't participated in previous elections and younger, more liberal white voters.
"If our Georgia is going to move to its next and greatest chapter, we are going to need leadership. Leadership that knows how to do the job. Leadership that doesn’t take credit without also taking responsibility. Leadership that works hard. Leadership that measures progress not by stats but by our ability for everyone to move up and thrive. Leadership that understands the true pain folks are feeling and has real plans. That’s the job of Governor," Abrams said.
The 47-year-old Abrams was a state lawmaker with little profile outside Georgia when she stepped in to the 2018 race, looking to become the state's first Black and first female governor. Four years later, she is entering the contest as a political titan widely credited for helping Georgia go blue in the presidential election for the first time since 1992 and for swinging control of the Senate to Democrats after two runoff victories.
Gov. Kemp issued a statement in response to her announcement that reads:
"With Stacey Abrams in control, Georgia would have shut down, students would have been barred from their classrooms, and woke politics would be the law of the land and the lesson plan in our schools. Her far-left agenda of open borders, gun confiscation, high taxes, and anti-law enforcement policies don’t reflect who we are as Georgians. Stacey’s never-ending campaign for power has already hurt Georgia businesses and cost our state millions – all in service to her ultimate ambition of becoming President of the United States. Next November’s election for Governor is a battle for the soul of our state. I’m in the fight against Stacey Abrams, the failed Biden agenda, and their woke allies to keep Georgia the best place to live, work, and raise a family."
Abrams faces vulnerabilities on several fronts. Her national stature could raise questions that she's more interested in eventually seeking higher office than in running the state. Republicans tried to blame her for Major League Baseball's decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta last year over backlash to the restrictive new voting law, though Abrams repeatedly discouraged boycotts.
Kemp has already been hitting Abrams, invoking her name when speaking on such topics as the recent Georgia election reform bill.
"They're coming for you next. That's been my message to the rest of the country," Kemp told FOX News in June. "They're coming for your state, your elections bill, your ballgame. They're going to cancel your small business."
Kemp recently was endorsed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
Abrams and Kemp look likely to face each other in a rematch in a new political climate. For one, Kemp faces opposition from Trump and his most GOP loyal supporters for not supporting the former president's baseless argument that he was cheated out of reelection through massive voter fraud, including in Georgia. Election officials conducted three recounts in the state, each of which affirmed Biden's victory.
Trump, who campaigned for Kemp in 2018, is now one of the governor's most vocal critics. The former president held a rally in the state in September, pointedly inviting former U.S. Sen. David Perdue to run against Kemp and sarcastically suggesting to the crowd that he would prefer Abrams to the incumbent governor.
Kemp's disavowal of problems in Georgia's election results -- and Trump's animus toward him -- did not stop him from pushing through restrictive changes to voting laws in response to Trump's 2020 national defeat. Many Democrats are worried that Georgia's new law, which gives the GOP-controlled legislature more control over elections officials, will reverse Abrams' years of work fighting voter suppression. Still other Democrats hope the new voting law will invigorate their supporters and make them even more determined to go to the polls.
Although Kemp defeated her by 1.4 percentage points, Abrams won 778,000 more votes than the previous Democrat to run for governor. The state saw record-breaking turnout in the 2020 presidential race and January Senate runoff elections.
Abrams has used voting concerns to mobilize Democrats, telling The Associated Press in April that "Republicans are gaming the system because they're afraid of losing an election."
Republicans, meanwhile, have tried to gain an upper hand by using the prospect of an Abrams candidacy to galvanize its voters. Earlier this year, Kemp allies preemptively formed a group called Stop Stacey, aimed specifically at stopping her from winning the governorship in 2022.
Abrams was defiant in the face of the 2018 loss, acknowledging Kemp as the victor but refusing to concede the race, citing "gross mismanagement" in his role as secretary of state overseeing the election. She accused Kemp of using his office to aggressively purge the rolls of inactive voters, enforce an "exact match" policy for checking voters' identities that left thousands of registrations in limbo and to pass other measures to tile the outcome in his favor.
The 2022 governor's race will test whether those gains were a one-time phenomenon driven by discomfort with then-President Donald Trump or marked the beginning of a more consequential political shift in a rapidly growing and diversifying South.
Since 2018, Abrams was named to Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. She was featured in Vogue and interviewed on a podcast by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. She wrote two books, including a legal thriller. She sold one of her old romance novels, written under the pen name Selena Montgomery, for development as a television program. She launched a 12-city speaking tour.
She considered a run for president in 2020 before eventually deciding against it. When Biden became the nominee, she openly lobbied to be his running mate, a position that ultimately went to Kamala Harris, the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent to hold that post.
The Associated Press contributed to this report