Stacey Abrams: Georgia Democrat will not run for president in 2020

Lauren Gambino in Washington
Photograph: Carlos Osorio/AP

Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia lawmaker who energized Democratic voters as a candidate for governor last year, will not run for president in 2020 after toying with the idea publicly for several months.

Abrams announced at a speech in Las Vegas that she would instead lend her platform to a new initiative called Fair Fight 2020, which aims to end voter suppression.

“There are only two things stopping us in 2020: making sure people have a reason to vote and that they have the right to vote,” Abrams told the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades convention, where she made the announcement. “I’ve decided to leave it to a whole bunch of other folks to make sure they have a reason to vote. I’m here today to announce Fair Fight 2020 to make sure everyone has the right to vote in the United States of America.”

Fair Fight 2020 will work with Democratic state parties and local groups across the country to expand voter access to the polls and fight efforts to strip away voting rights before the presidential election next year. The effort will target 20 states, many of them key battlegrounds in the midwest and the south.

The initiative is a national extension of Fair Fight 2020, a group Abrams began after narrowly losing in 2018 to Republican Brian Kemp, who served as Georgia’s secretary of state during an election plagued by allegations of voter suppression and irregularities.

After her election, Abrams, 45, refused to concede to Kemp, whom she called the “architect of voter suppression” in Georgia after he closed several polling locations in predominantly African American communities and stalled more than 50,000 voter registrations.

Since her loss, Abrams’ profile has continued to rise and she has become a heroine on the left. She delivered the Democratic response to the president’s State of the Union Address earlier this year, and the party’s 2020 candidates often make a point to say that Abrams would be governor of Georgia – and the nation’s first black female governor – had it not been for intentional voter suppression.

This year, she ruled out a run for Senate despite an aggressive effort by national Democrats to draft her into the race against the Republican senator David Perdue. Had she opted to run for president, she would have had to quickly ramp up a campaign and find an opening in a crowded race that has seen candidates with higher profiles struggle to break through.

“Something that seems to anger people when I say it: we won. We won. We won that election,” Abrams said at the convention, as members rose to their feet in applause. “We changed the face of Georgia.”