April 30, 2019 / 11:40 AM / 5 months ago

Georgia Democrat Abrams rules out U.S. Senate run, says not 'best' role

(Reuters) - Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, a rising Democratic Party star who narrowly fell short of becoming the first female black U.S. governor, said on Tuesday she would not run for the U.S. Senate in 2020 because it was not “the best role” for her.

Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams speaks on stage at the Women In The World Summit in New York, U.S., April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“The fights to be waged require a deep commitment to the job and I do not see the U.S. Senate as the best role for me in this battle for our nation’s future,” Abrams said in a video posted on Twitter, adding she would work to ensure the state elected a Democrat to the seat.

Abrams stands at the forefront of a diverse and younger generation of Democratic Party leaders catapulted onto the national stage in last year’s midterm elections, and has been discussed as a possible 2020 White House candidate.

Her profile continued to climb when party officials picked her in February to deliver their response to Republican President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.

The 45-year-old former Georgia state legislative leader, demonstrated how Democrats could compete in a Southern state that had been voting reliably Republican. She came closer than any Democrat in years by rallying African-American voters, while drawing stronger support from white voters than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to exit polls.

Abrams lost the governor’s race by about one percent of nearly 4 million votes cast in a Nov. 6, 2018 election that drew national scrutiny for voter suppression amid widespread complaints of ballot box irregularities, which Abrams blamed for eroding her margins.

“There’s been a lot of doubt about Georgia’s competitiveness that I think has now evaporated,” Lauren Groh-Warren, who managed Abrams’ 2018 campaign, said in an interview with Reuters prior to Tuesday’s announcement.

After her defeat, Abrams founded the voting rights nonprofit, Fair Fight Action, which aims to end state practices that have drawn criticism from national voting rights advocates. These practices range from purges of the voter rolls and stringent rules requiring signatures on mail-in ballots, to exact-match official records.

Such requirements can disproportionately affect minority voters who often favor Democratic candidates.

“Bad policies are a direct result of people not being heard because their votes were not counted,” Abrams said in the video, adding she would continue to fight voter suppression.

Abram’s 2018 opponent, Republican Brian Kemp, ignited further controversy for overseeing the election as Georgia’s then secretary of state. Kemp, who has denied nefarious action, stepped down from his post only after winning the governorship.

Despite her loss, Abrams’ candidacy is widely credited with helping to turn out Democratic voters who enabled the party to pick up a congressional seat in the Atlanta suburbs and come close to wresting a second seat away from the Republican Party.

Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida, additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum

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