AJC Interview: Abrams reveals why she won’t run for Senate

Stacey Abrams said Tuesday she won’t run for the U.S. Senate in 2020. She left open the possibility she could launch a presidential campaign, however. “I’ve been deeply honored by so many fellow Georgians asking me to serve,” she said. If she doesn’t make a White House run, Abrams is likely to prepare a 2022 rematch against Gov. Brian Kemp. Her profile has only grown after that election as she’s traveled across the nation on a book tour.

There was no "thunder-clap moment" that sparked Democrat Stacey Abrams' decision to forgo a U.S. Senate bid.

Instead, Abrams said in an interview, she came to her conclusion after letting the arguments for and against a run “percolate” for a bit.

The former gubernatorial candidate spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about why she decided not to challenge Republican David Perdue, how she approaches her next step and why she’s confident she won’t second guess herself.

You can find the full story here. Below are excerpts of the AJC's interview.

Q: Why did you decide against a Senate run? 

“I gave this very careful consideration, and while I think this is a critical seat we have to take in 2020, it’s not the role I want to play in the next phase. I deeply respect and appreciate the information I received from [Senate Minority] Leader Schumer, the support and advice from a number of key folks. But in the end, we’re responsible for doing the work we’re best suited for.”

Q: It seems like you always been driven more toward executive office. 

“I enjoyed that time in the Legislature. I think I was effective. But I believe in organizing systems and trying to address problems in a direct way ... This conversation was about the Senate. I have not decided what I’m going to do about other races, but Georgia will always be at the center of my plans.”

>> Related: Who could challenge Sen. David Perdue in 2020

ExploreStacey Abrams won’t run for US Senate in Georgia

Q: You faced a lot of pressure from Schumer and others to run, and it sounded like this genuinely wasn’t an easy decision. 

“Absolutely not. We need a good senator from Georgia and right now we’re not being fairly represented by David Perdue. He has sublimated his role here for an allegiance to Donald Trump that’s not in the best service to Georgia. But on a personal level, I don’t like disappointing people. And I’ve been deeply honored by so many fellow Georgians asking me to serve. But my responsibility is not simply to run because the job is available. I need to run because I want to do the job.”

Q: Was there a singular moment that led you to this conclusion? 

“It wasn’t a thunder-clap moment. But it was a process. I recognize that while the arguments [to run] are strong, they weren’t sufficiently compelling for me to change my mind. ... Years ago, the Senate wasn’t part of my calculus. Even though I have a much better idea for how to address the issues of voting rights, healthcare, the international tensions that exist because of the lack of leadership from Republicans, I wasn’t driven to change this decision. It wasn’t a thunder-clap moment, though. I like to take information in and let it percolate.”

Q: Most politicians need to be talked out of running for something. Did you go into this needing to be convinced?

“It’s a job. In the hullabaloo of running for office there’s an amnesia about that. People are interviewing for a job and the responsibility is to think through that job. And you have to think about what it’s like in the worst day of that job. Where I know my strengths lie, for me, is establishing systems and protocols, finding solutions, and trying to push for results. The Senate is a great institution but, for me, it’s not the role that best suits those needs.”

Q: You haven’t ruled out a run for president or a rematch against Gov. Brian Kemp. What does the next few months for you look like? 

“I’m going to continue to do the work we’re doing on voter suppression, supporting the work that’s being done by Fair Count, ensuring a fair Census count. I will stand up on issues as they arise, making sure that the voices of Georgians are always being heard.”

Q: Do you think you’ll ever wonder if you’ve missed your moment by not running for the Senate?  

“Not on this. This isn’t about a moment. These are jobs. I appreciate the zeitgeist of the post-election work we now do. But you have to look at the daily work -- that has to always be the determining factor. It’s not about the title, it’s the work.”

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