Democrat Stacey Abrams said Friday she can’t win the Georgia governor’s race, effectively ending her challenge to Republican Brian Kemp.
Her speech effectively put a stop to the contest. The final result had been in doubt for 10 days after the election.
Abrams made her announcement just after 5 p.m. That was the earliest state officials could certify the results after a court-ordered review of absentee, provisional and other uncounted ballots. Abrams’ campaign had contended there were potentially enough uncounted votes to force a runoff.
Abrams had hoped to become the first black governor of the Deep South state and the first black female governor of any state.
Kemp is Georgia’s former secretary of state. He was backed by President Donald Trump.
Abrams stressed as she spoke: “This is not a speech of concession.”
A spokesman for the Kemp campaign didn’t answer his phone and didn’t immediately respond to a text message seeking comment after Abrams’ speech.
Abrams also said she will file a federal lawsuit to challenge the “gross mismanagement” of Georgia elections.
Abrams made the comments in the same Friday speech, shortly after she said she can’t win the race.
“In the coming days, we will be filing a major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections,” she said.
Kemp is Georgia’s former secretary of state. Abrams and voting rights activists have argued for months that Kemp mismanaged the elections system in his post.
He was backed by President Donald Trump.
Earlier in the day, the Georgia secretary of state’s office said county election officials were making progress on steps required to comply with federal judges’ orders regarding absentee and provisional ballots.
The office said in a news release that 27 counties had to conduct a second review of provisional ballots cast because would-be voters didn’t appear on the voter rolls. By midday Friday, more than half of those counties had completed their review.
Additionally, all counties were required to count absentee ballots that had previously been rejected because of a missing or inaccurate date of birth. Three-quarters of all counties had completed that count.
The secretary of state’s office had instructed counties to complete the reviews by 5 p.m. Friday.
The release said once state election officials confirm that counties have complied with the judges’ orders, they will review the documentation prior to certification.
Reports early Friday morning said that Abrams was considering an unprecedented legal challenge in the unresolved Georgia governor’s race that could leave the state’s Supreme Court deciding whether to force another round of voting.
Her longshot strategy was being discussed as Georgia elections officials appeared to be on the cusp of certifying Republican Brian Kemp as the winner of a bitterly fought campaign.
Top Abrams advisers outlined her prospective case to The Associated Press. They stressed the Democratic candidate hadn’t finalized a decision about whether to proceed once state officials certify Kemp as the victor, which was expected later the same day.
The Abrams campaign had nearly three dozen lawyers working on the potential case and considering other legal options.
Unofficial returns showed Kemp with 50.2 percent of more than 3.9 million votes on Friday morning.