Why Stacey Abrams still won’t concede

Stacey Abrams lost her 2018 bid for the Georgia governorship last November in a contentious race against then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

And despite acknowledging Kemp as the legal victor, Abrams has refused to officially concede the election.

“Concession in the political space is an acknowledgment that the process was fair,” she told Yahoo News. “And I don't believe that to be so.”

Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, said she “certainly was very sad, depressed, angry” after her loss, and has maintained that her campaign “would have come to a successful conclusion” if not for voter suppression. The state board of elections ruled Kemp the victor by fewer than 55,000 votes.

“I've talked to hundreds of people who've had stories about how they were denied the right to vote, how it was made difficult for them to speak in their democracy,” Abrams said. “But more than that, I understand that it's not just about me. When elections are about politicians, it's one and done. If you win, you lose, people move on.”

“But when we remember that elections are about people,” she continued, “that it's not a question of what I got, it's a question of what people were asking for, then my responsibility is not to make my life easier by doing the dance that politicians are taught to do.”

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 23- Stacey Abrams is seen during a conversation with Valerie Jarrett, former advisor to President Obama, at The Carter Center on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Stacey Abrams at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Ga. (Photo: Elijah Nouvelage for the Washington Post via Getty Images)

Shortly before the interview, Democrat Jon Ossoff announced his bid to take on Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who is set to also run alongside the Republican nominee in a special election for Georgia’s other Senate seat. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is planning on stepping down in December and a temporary replacement with be named until the November elections.

But Abrams told Yahoo News she wasn’t likely to endorse a candidate in either election until the state’s Democratic primary voters had their say. And despite urging from some Democrats, she insisted she wouldn’t run for either seat herself.

"There are two reasons I'm not running for the Senate. No. 1, I don't want to. I appreciate the importance of the deliberative bodies, but my passion, my energy, is in execution," she said. "I believe we have to win those seats. But I don't have to be the person to do it," she added.

Point No. 2, she said, is: "I believe that any candidate who's willing to be authentic and intentional and invest in every vote, that we can have a Democrat win both seats in 2020."

Abrams has launched Fair Count, a nonprofit dedicated to including in the census Georgia’s historically “hard-to-count populations,” such as people of color, non-English speakers and renters.

Abrams argued that a fair count of communities of color is not solely based on “trying to erase how the Trump administration is trying to diminish [them]”, but on “resources that get forfeited.”

“If we don't count black men in Georgia, for example,” she said, “if the predicted undercount happens, it's $150 million a year that is lost in the state. That's real money. That's health care. That's access to education.”

Ultimately, Abrams says her mission is to instill trust in democracy for communities that are disenfranchised and marginalized.

“I want to make certain that we win the House, the Senate, and the presidency,” she said. “Because the only way we solve and tackle those massive policy issues — whether it's mass incarceration, climate change, poverty, education — we have to have people in office who trust and believe in America. And we don't have that right now.”


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