Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic nominee for Georgia governor, announced Wednesday that she's running again in 2022.
Abrams' long-awaited decision will set up a high-profile race in one of the marquee battleground states during the midterm elections. Her announcement highlighted much of the work that she has done since she lost her bid in 2018.
"Opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn't be determined by your zip code, background or access to power," Abrams said in a statement. "For the past four years, when the hardest times hit us all, I've worked to do my part to help families make it through. My job has been to just put my head down and keep working — toward One Georgia."
Abrams lost to Republican Governor Brian Kemp in 2018 by about 55,000 votes. She acknowledged Kemp was the winner of that race but refused to concede, citing the "erosion of democracy" amid accusations of voter suppression during the race.
Kemp has repeatedly denied Abrams' claims of election mismanagement during the 2018 election. He was serving as secretary of state during that campaign.
If Abrams and Kemp make it through their primaries, it would set up an epic political rematch in Peach State.
"With Stacey Abrams in control, Georgia would have shut down, students would have been barred from their classrooms, and woke politics would be the law of the land and the lesson plan in our schools," Kemp tweeted after Abrams' announcement.
Following the 2018 race, Abrams launched Fair Fight, a powerhouse voter registration and voting rights group based in Georgia. The organization was partly credited with helping President Joe Biden win Georgia in 2020 and Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win hotly contested runoff elections in January.
In a sign of their focus on Abrams, Republicans launched a political group in the spring called "Stop Stacey." Despite Abrams' close loss in 2018 and Democrats' success in 2020, some Republicans believe her candidacy can help unify the GOP base in opposition.
Abrams, a Yale Law School graduate, is Georgia's former House minority leader. If her campaign is successful she would become the first Black governor of Georgia and first Black woman to serve as governor in the United States.
Her campaign announcement took shots at Georgia Republicans, saying leaders have launched "attacks on the right to vote and freedom to choose," failed to expand Medicaid and left a "void of leadership during the pandemic."
"If our Georgia is going to move to its next and greatest chapter, we are going to need leadership," Abrams said in a campaign video.
Speculation has swirled for months about whether she'd run for governor again, but there was little doubt among Georgia Democrats about whether she would jump into the race. She frequently speaks about her ambition to someday become president.
"Do I hold it as an ambition? Absolutely," Abrams told CBS Sunday Morning in May. "And even more importantly, when someone asks me if that's my ambition, I have a responsibility to say yes, for every young woman, every person of color, every young person of color, who sees me and decides what they're capable of based on what I think I am capable of. Again, it's about you cannot have those things you refuse to dream of."
Abrams has been criticized by some Republicans for failing to concede the 2018 election, including by Kemp and Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
"And really her whole narrative set the table for 2020, President Trump just ramped it up to a higher level, he did the same thing about stolen election claims, but he was on the other side of the coin, called voter fraud," Raffensperger said in a recent interview with CBSN.
Abrams said she was angry after the 2018 election, but noted that she never filed a formal challenge, as Mr. Trump's campaign did in several states in 2020.
"What I have fought for, and what I have said consistently, what even they will admit — those who are unhappy with me – is that I never once filed a challenge to make myself Governor of Georgia," Abrams said. "I have always ever fought to make certain that every vote got counted and every person got included."