02/19/2019 -- Atlanta Georgia -- Fair Fight Action founder and Chair Stacey Abrams testifies about voting rights in Georgia during a field hearing on voting rights and difficulties facing voters in front of the United States House Administration Committee's elections subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, Tuesday, February 19, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Stacey Abrams is keeping her options open for 2020 

Stacey Abrams has dropped hints in a string of recent appearances that she’s not ruling out a bid for president next year. But she might be leaving the possibility open for another White House prize.

The Democrat instantly emerged as a potential challenger to U.S. Sen. David Perdue after she narrowly lost last year’s vote to Gov. Brian Kemp. She hasn’t rebuffed overtures from supporters who want her to run for president, either. 

But as a self-imposed early April deadline to announce her intentions nears, she may prepare for another avenue that could open.  

The two early Democratic frontrunners for president – Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders - are both white men from the Northeast. Other candidates, too, may need help balancing the ticket ideologically, geographically and racially. 

And she’d be far less likely to join a White House bid if she was in the middle of a pitched Senate race.

Her allies say she’s strongly considering a Senate challenge, and a field of anxious Democrats is waiting on her word to decide their next step. If she runs, she won’t face any high-profile primary opposition. If she doesn’t, several prominent Democrats are poised to enter the race

A run for president seems unlikely. She hasn’t begun the process of lining up endorsements, hiring droves of operatives and making visits to early-voting states. She’s instead traveled the nation to boost her Fair Fight Action group and promote her book. She’s also lined up speaking gigs through the Harry Walker Agency

Passing up a Senate run is a gamble of its own. She’s the queenmaker in the state Democratic party with a soaring national profile, enhanced by her response to the State of the Union. If she runs, she’d quickly attract new attention and eager donors. 

There’s no such guarantee if she wants to position herself as a potential vice presidential nominee, particularly if she has to jockey against defeated White House candidates. Still, if that doesn’t pan out, she could go back to square one. 

Abrams has made it crystal clear over the years she wants to be Georgia’s next governor. And if she stays on the sidelines in 2020, she seems assured of challenging Kemp two years later.

“I can’t go back and win 2018,” she said at an LGBTQ conference last week in San Francisco, “but I can win 2020 and 2022.” 

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.