SAVANNAH, Georgia - Stacey Abrams is running for governor, setting up the first test of Georgia's swing state status following President Joe Biden's win during the 2020 election.
In a campaign announcement video released via Twitter, Abrams said she is running to make sure all Georgians have access to the same levels of opportunity, highlighting her work over the last four years.
"Opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn't be determined by your ZIP code, background or access to power. If our Georgia is going to move to its next and greatest chapter, we're going to need leadership," Abrams said.
Abrams' announcement means a potential rematch with Brian Kemp, who narrowly defeated her in the 2018 race. Kemp has announced he will seek re-election but will face primary challengers, including former state lawmaker Vernon Jones. Former U.S. Senate David Perdue, who lost his seat to Jon Ossoff in the 2020 election, is also exploring a run.
Abrams lost the 2018 race to Kemp by 1.4 percentage points. She missed forcing a runoff by approximately 55,000 votes. Her 2022 bid has long been expected by both Democrats and Republicans. If Abrams wins, she'll be the first Black governor in Georgia's history, as well as the first Black woman to be governor in U.S. history.
Her showing against Kemp - and the media coverage around the race - supercharged her profile within the Democratic Party. She was chosen to deliver the Democrat response to then-President Donald Trump's 2019 State of the Union address.
She was courted as a candidate for the 2020 election, first for a U.S. Senate post and later as a potential vice presidential running mate to Joe Biden. Once Biden selected Kamala Harris as his VP, Abrams turned her focus to rallying support for Biden, Harris and eventual Senate winners Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
A rematch (maybe) with Kemp
The political environment of Georgia in 2021 is starkly different than it was in 2018, and many credit Abrams for that change. Through her work with FairFight, a political action committee focused on voting rights, and other get-out-the-vote organizations, Abrams had a hand in registering an estimated 800,000 new Georgia voters ahead of the 2020 elections.
Georgia flipped blue in the 2020 presidential election, sending the state's 16 electoral college votes to a Democrat for the first time since 1992.
Similarly, Georgia's governor seat has not been occupied by a Democrat since 2003, when Roy Barnes held the post. Abrams' candidacy will test the notion that Georgia is a swing state where Democrats can regularly unseat Republicans.
It's a question Abrams will have time to answer. No other Democrat in the state has announced a gubernatorial run, and due to her stature within the national Democratic hierarchy, she's not expected to have any competition in the primary. Her announcement leaves her with the full month of December to fundraise.
On the Republican side, the gubernatorial landscape is not so simple.
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Republican voters helped Kemp beat Abrams in 2018, but that was before Kemp rebuffed Trump's allegations of election fraud in Georgia. Since the 2020 election, county and district Republican Party organizations have experienced internal clashes between traditional, establishment types and vocal pro-Trumpers.
In the meantime, Trump has publicly courted candidates to challenge Kemp in the 2022 primary, including Perdue.
Will Peebles is the enterprise reporter for Savannah Morning News. He can be reached at email@example.com and @willpeeblessmn on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Stacey Abrams announces run for Georgia governor