Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams announced on Friday that although she is not officially conceding the Georgia gubernatorial race against Republican candidate Brian Kemp, her team sees no way forward for her to win—effectively ending her campaign.
As such, Kemp has finally emerged the winner of a narrow victory to become the next governor of Georgia, overcoming a prolonged and hard-fought race against the first black woman to win a major party’s gubernatorial nomination in American history.
In the end, according to the latest tally, Kemp, who until two days after the midterm elections served as Georgia’s secretary of state, defeated Abrams, the former minority leader of Georgia’s state house, by roughly 1.5 points.
Abrams additionally announced Friday that she will file a federal lawsuit “to protect future elections” from what she characterized as the “gross mismanagement” of Georgia’s elections process. “The antidote to injustice is progress. The cure for this malpractice is a fight for fairness is every election held,” she said.
During her Friday speech, Abrams noted that she “will pray for the success for Brian Kemp” and that “he will refuse the call of those who see how close this election really was, because we know that some are going to propose to make voting even harder.”
Kemp had already declared victory the day after Tuesday’s midterm elections, despite an initial announcement from Abrams that she would not concede until every vote had been counted.
“I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial elections,” Abrams said in an election-week speech to supporters. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people and the state baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling. So let’s be clear: this is not a speech of concession, because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, or true, or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”
The campaign to lead Georgia was one of the closest-watched in the nation, as polls showed a tight race between Abrams, a former attorney and entrepreneur, and Kemp, whose dual role as candidate and overseer of the state’s electoral process prompted vocal allegations that he was using his elected office to lean on the scales.
Tuesday’s election was marred by long lines, malfunctioning equipment and accusations of voter suppression, and Kemp resigned from his position overseeing the election shortly after a lawsuit filed by Georgia voters in a federal court accused him of using “the official powers of his office to interfere in the election to benefit himself and his political party and disadvantage his opponents.”
Abrams even joined former president Jimmy Carter in calling on Kemp to resign from office “so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their secretary of state competently and impartially oversee this election” following reports that his office sought to remove more than 50,000 Georgians from voter rolls, most of them minorities.
A federal judge eventually ruled against Kemp’s attempts to purge voters under the state’s so-called “exact match” law, which marks voter registration applications as “pending” if the information on their voter registration form doesn’t exactly match that on file with the state’s Department of Driver Services. The judge ruled that the law would cause “irreparable harm” by robbing Georgians of their vote.
Kemp returned fire the weekend before the election, asserting without evidence that Democrats in the state had attempted to hack voter databases, shortly after he was informed that the state’s voter rolls were susceptible to interference.