Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the race to be governor of Georgia, says she's not running for Senate

Key Points
  • Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost a bid to be Georgia's governor last year, will not challenge Republican Sen. David Perdue in the state's 2020 U.S. Senate race.
  • But she's not ruling out a run for the White House.
  • "My responsibility is not simply to run because the job is available. I need to run because I want to do the job," she tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Her decision leaves the Democratic primary field in Georgia wide open.
Stacey Abrams, Former Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate, at the National Action Network (NAN) convention in New York City.
Michael Brochstein | LightRocket | Getty Images

After losing a tight race to be governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams has decided not to run for a Senate seat next year. She still might run for president, however.

"I've been deeply honored by so many fellow Georgians asking me to serve," she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a story published Tuesday. "But my responsibility is not simply to run because the job is available. I need to run because I want to do the job."

Abrams followed up with a Twitter video in which she said: "I will do everything in my power to ensure Georgia elects a Democrat to the United States Senate in 2020."

Abrams tweet

Her decision leaves the Democratic primary field in the race to challenge GOP Sen. David Perdue wide open. Abrams lost the governor's race in the recently red state by only about 1.5 percentage points to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, leading many to see her as the best challenger to Perdue.

Republicans have to defend 22 Senate seats in 2020, while only 12 Democratic-held seats are up for grabs. Georgia is considered among a handful of the most competitive races next year.

Senate Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, meaning Democrats would have to flip four seats to win control. The Senate GOP campaign arm cheered Abrams' decision.

National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Jesse Hunt said Abrams "handed Chuck Schumer his most embarrassing recruiting fail of the cycle, leaving Georgia Democrats stuck with an assortment of second-tier candidates."

Teresa Tomlinson, former mayor of Columbus, Georgia, has said she would run for Senate if Abrams did not, the Journal-Constitution reported earlier in April.

Abrams' national profile has grown since she lost to Kemp by more than 50,000 votes. The contest was also mired in allegations of voter suppression.

In February, Abrams delivered the Democrats' response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address. More recently, there was speculation that former Vice President Joe Biden would announce Abrams as his 2020 running mate months before next year's primary contests even began.

Abrams has since focused on issues such as voting rights and health insurance expansion. She could consider running against Kemp again in 2022.

The Journal-Constitution said Abrams did not explicitly rule out running for president next year.

"This conversation was about the Senate," she told the newspaper. "I have not decided what I'm going to do about other races, but Georgia will always be at the center of my plans."

The Democratic presidential primary field already has 20 candidates, including Biden, who recently made his bid official. The first Democratic presidential debate will take place on June 26 and 27 in Miami.