By Jessica Taylor (NPR.org)
Republican Brian Kemp will be the next governor of Georgia, with Democrat Stacey Abrams admitting Friday afternoon that there was no path to victory, following a bitter 10-day battle since Election Day.
“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 in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.”
In a fiery speech, Abrams insisted this was no normal concession, decrying the “deliberate and intentional” voter suppression by Kemp that she believed had led to this conclusion.
“Pundits and hyperpartisans will hear my words as a rejection of the normal order. You see, I’m supposed to say nice things and accept my fate. They will complain that I should not use this moment to recap what was done wrong or to demand a remedy. You see, as a leader I should be stoic in my outrage and silent in my rebuke,” Abrams said. “But stoicism is a luxury and silence is a weapon for those who would quiet the voices of the people. And I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy is not right.”
The contest between Kemp and Abrams had been one of the most closely watched — and bitter — of the cycle. Abrams, who was vying to become the first black woman ever elected governor in U.S. history, had alleged throughout the campaign that Kemp, who stepped down as secretary of state after the election, had been working to disenfranchise minority voters, deny or delay new registrations and purge voting rolls.
Those charges spilled out well beyond Nov. 6, with the race too close to call. Abrams had been fighting to include additional provisional and absentee ballots into the count, hoping that could help her close the roughly 18,000-vote deficit she needed to force a runoff next month.
“On election night, I declared that our fight to count every vote is not about me — it is about us. It is about the democracy that we share and the responsibility to preserve our way of life,” she said Friday.
“Voting is not a right for some — it is a right for all, and it is not a privilege,” Abrams emphasized, echoing the mindset of African-Americans who fought only decades ago for the right to vote — which was especially suppressed in places in the Deep South, and in Georgia.