Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said Tuesday she will not run for a U.S. Senate seat in 2020, dimming her party’s hopes of a Senate majority and renewing speculation about her political future after last year’s unsuccessful run for governor catapulted her to national acclaim.
Abrams, 45, came within 60,000 votes of being the first black woman elected governor in U.S. history. She told the Associated Press she hasn’t ruled out a presidential bid, though she’s in no rush to join a Democratic field that already includes 20 candidates.
“I’m going to continue to watch how the national conversation around the presidency unfolds,” Abrams said in an interview after she told Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, her chief Senate advocate, of her plans. “I’m not taking myself out of that conversation, but I’m not ready to make a determination, and I don’t think one is necessary at this moment.”
Abrams said she was “deeply gratified” to Schumer for recruiting her to run for the Senate and giving her ample time to make a decision. A Senate seat, she said, is “an extraordinarily persuasive idea” and a “critical role” but “not the role that I want to play.”
For now, Abrams said her emphasis remains on two advocacy groups — one focused on voting rights, the other on educating residents ahead of the 2020 census — that she helped launch after her November loss to Republican Brian Kemp. She also will consider a rematch against Kemp in 2022, and some of her confidants say that office still rests at the center of her near-term ambitions.
Abrams met Schumer on Monday in Washington, ending months of eager courting by the hard-charging New Yorker and leaving him to plot another uphill path to reversing Republicans 53-47 Senate advantage.
“He was extraordinarily gracious,” Abrams said.
Georgia is among a handful of states with Senate races where Democrats need an upset to have hopes of a new majority. Schumer has been open in his belief that Abrams would have the best shot to defeat Republican Sen. David Perdue, who in his first term has become one of President Trump’s most loyal Capitol Hill allies.
Schumer also is looking to Montana and Texas for unlikely but possible victories. But as with Abrams, he has not yet landed headliner candidates. Democrats in Washington want Gov. Steve Bullock to take on Republican Sen. Steve Daines, but Bullock, the only Democratic governor to twice win a state Trump won, is eyeing a presidential run instead.
In Texas, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is running for president instead of reprising his 2018 Senate bid that fell short against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Texas Democrats could turn to Rep. Joaquin Castro as their best shot to unseat Sen. John Cornyn. Castro’s brother, Julian, is running for president.