U.S.

Georgia Governor Race: Stacey Abrams Says Brian Kemp Will Win but Only Because He Suppressed Votes

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams recognized Friday evening that Republican candidate Brian Kemp would be certified as the winner of the state’s ongoing election.

In a speech at the Abrams team headquarters in Atlanta, the Democratic candidate acknowledged that her campaign had exhausted all legal attempts to count all votes and that her ongoing challenge to Kemp would end.

“I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial elections,” she said. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state boldly pin his hopes for this election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.”

The speech was not, however, a concession, she said, because “concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”

Abrams announced that she would launch a new organization, Fair Fight Georgia, and focus her energy as a private citizen on fighting voter suppression in her state. The organization will file a federal lawsuit to challenge the 'gross mismanagement' of the elections in Georgia, she said.

georgia governor race, stacey abrams Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams addresses supporters at an election watch party in Atlanta, on November 6. Abrams recognized Friday evening that Republican candidate Brian Kemp would be certified as the winner of the state’s ongoing election. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Abrams has been embroiled in a legal battle with Kemp and the state of Georgia ever since the midterm elections on November 6. Her campaign has fought to find and count every vote in the hope of tightening the election results to force a runoff election in December. Abrams's campaign was still mulling further legal action as late as Friday morning but ultimately decided there was no foreseeable path to victory.

"Make no mistake, the former secretary of state was deliberate and intentional in his actions," Abrams said Friday evening. "I know that eight years of systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence had its desired effect on the electoral process in Georgia."

As secretary of state, Kemp also served as Georgia’s chief election officer and refused to resign or recuse himself from his position until two days after the general elections.

While overseeing elections in Georgia, Kemp expelled nearly 1.5 million Georgians from the voter rolls, nearly double the number of his predecessor. He also held up the applications of about 53,000 potential voters in Georgia, 70 percent of whom were people of color, because of small typographical errors or signature mismatches.

Kemp has denied allegations of voter suppression. “This farce about voter suppression and people being held up from being on the rolls … is absolutely not true,” he said during a debate with Abrams in October. “If you want to blame somebody, blame President Obama.”

The final results of the Georgia election showed Kemp up about 1.5 points over Abrams.

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