Adorned in a purple dress and a look of confident, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams begrudgingly ceased her campaign and acknowledged that her opponent, Brian Kemp, obtained the requisite amount of votes needed to seal the nomination.
Based on Lucy McBath’s win over Karen Handel in Georgia’ tough Sixth District, coupled with the narrowest margin of victory in a governor’s race, and the Dec. 4 runoff election for the vacant Secretary of State’s Office between Democrat John Barrow and Republican Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Democrats can argue the state is turning purple.
During her speech at her campaign headquarters in Kirkwood, Abrams, above all, said she wanted everyone to know, last Friday’s speech was not a concession speech.
“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 of this state, baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote – has been truly appalling.
“To be clear, this is not a speech of concession,” she continued with fiery delivery. “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede. But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.”
Abrams was defiant, alleging Kemp won because he systematically purged voters around the state, suppressing the vote to the point the former Secretary of State can amass an insurmountable lead.
“Make no mistake, the former Secretary of State was deliberate and intentional in his actions,” the former House minority leader said, facing many of her supporters and countless members of the press. “I know that eight years of systematic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence had its desired effect on the electoral process in Georgia.
“As I have for more than twenty years, I will stand with my fellow Georgians in pursuit of fairness,” she continued. “Only now, I do so as a private citizen, ready to continue to defend those whose choices were denied their full expression.”
Kemp responded to Abrams’s speech and issued a statement early Saturday morning:
“Moments ago, Stacey Abrams conceded the race and officially ended her campaign for governor. 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.”
In a news conference Saturday, Kemp struck a more conciliatory tone toward Abrams, saying she “ran one heck of a campaign and I know she can be proud of that effort.”
Kemp also defended his victory. He said: “Look, we have laws on the books that prevent elections from being stolen from anyone.”
The Governor’s race was contentious, fiercely fought and sometimes, the campaign rhetoric possessed some dog-whistling overtones. Abrams was fighting to become the first African-American female governor in United States history.
The Abrams campaign was considering several legal challenges after the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday, including one before the state Supreme Court that could be expedited on a provision allowing a losing candidate to challenge results based on “misconduct, fraud or irregularities … sufficient to change or place in doubt the results.”
Abrams will not fight the election result, but she announced at her news conference that her campaign “will be filing a major federal lawsuit” against the state of Georgia “for the gross mismanagement of this election.”
“I announce the launch of Fair Fight Georgia, an operation that will pursue accountability in Georgia’s elections and integrity in the process of maintaining our voting rolls,” she said. “In the coming days, we will be filing a major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions.”