Stacey Abrams announced on Tuesday that she would not run for Senate in 2020, denying Democrats their favored recruit for the race in Georgia. She did not say if she planned to run for president, which she has also been considering doing.
Ms. Abrams, 45, had been courted aggressively by national Democrats to enter the Senate race against David Perdue, one of President Trump’s closest allies in Congress. As a candidate for governor last year, she electrified Democratic voters in Georgia and became a hero to liberals nationally with an energetic campaign that ended in a narrow defeat.
“I am so grateful for all of the support and encouragement I have received from fellow Georgians, to leaders of Congress and beyond,” she said in a video announcing her decision. “However the fights to be waged require a deep commitment to the job, and I do not see the U.S. Senate as the best role for me in this battle for our nation’s future.”
She added that she would do everything in her power to ensure Georgia elected a Democrat to the seat in 2020.
By opting not to seek the Senate seat next year, Ms. Abrams may be setting her sights instead on the presidency or the vice presidency, or another campaign for the governorship in 2022, when the man who defeated her, Gov. Brian Kemp, will be up for re-election.
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Ms. Abrams asserted last fall that Mr. Kemp won the election in part by using his powers as the state’s chief election administrator to impede voting by African-Americans and other minority communities. She declined to concede formally to Mr. Kemp and after the campaign launched a group, Fair Fight Action, to marshal political and legal support for broadening voting rights.
The organization is suing the Georgia secretary of state’s office, asking federal courts to address voting procedures that the group claims are unconstitutional and discriminatory. Mr. Kemp has denied behaving improperly in his former role as secretary of state.
As an African-American woman running as a progressive in traditionally red Georgia, Ms. Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, was so inspiring to Democrats outside her own state that she contemplated seeking an even higher office: the presidency.
Ms. Abrams did not reveal any plans with respect to the White House in the video.
“While I still don’t know exactly what’s next for me, here’s what I do know: Democracy in America is under attack,” she said. “Voter suppression is rampant and it is real.”
She delivered the Democratic response to Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address last winter, offering herself as a spokeswoman for a pragmatic version of progressivism focused on matters of economic opportunity and health care.
Ms. Abrams’s decision may leave national Democrats scrambling to find an alternative opponent for Mr. Perdue, a staunch conservative. At least one other significant Democrat, Teresa Tomlinson, the former mayor of Columbus, Ga., has been preparing a run against Mr. Perdue, and she may now be best positioned to become her party’s leading option.
But Ms. Abrams was the most successful Democratic candidate for high office in Georgia in more than a decade, and any other contender will have to build largely from scratch the financial and political network that Ms. Abrams will now attempt to hold in reserve until she makes a decision.
In addition to contemplating campaigns for the Senate and the White House, Ms. Abrams was discussed as a possible nominee for the vice presidency. She met in March with Joseph R. Biden Jr., a front-runner for their party’s presidential nomination, and Mr. Biden’s advisers floated the idea of inviting her to run as a partner with him in the Democratic primaries.
Advisers to both Ms. Abrams and Mr. Biden denied they ever discussed such a formal deal.
Ms. Abrams’s announcement spurred a back-and-forth between the Republican and Democratic committees charged with electing their members to the Senate.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee labeled her decision a “recruiting embarrassment” for the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer.
“Stacey Abrams handed Chuck Schumer his most embarrassing recruiting fail of the cycle, leaving Georgia Democrats stuck with an assortment of second-tier candidates,” a spokesman, Jesse Hunt said. “Her decision is the latest in a string of high-profile Democrats who have rejected Schumer’s pitch out of fear of facing formidable Republican senators next fall.”
A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, meanwhile, deemed the Georgia seat a “great pickup opportunity” and attacked Mr. Perdue.
“Stacey Abrams would have been a great senator, and so will the candidate who takes on Senator Perdue next fall,” the spokesman, Stewart Boss, said. “Democrats laid a strong foundation for 2020, and Senator Perdue will be held accountable for driving up health care costs, giving big corporations and millionaires like himself a tax break, and putting the president ahead of what’s right.”