In a speech late Friday that acknowledged no further legal remedy remains to challenge the election process in Georgia, the message delivered by Democratic gubenatorial candidate Stacey Abrams won wild applause when she declared that while Republican Brian Kemp may have won the race hers was "not a speech of concession" when it came to the degree to which "democracy failed" amid rampant voter suppression throughout the campaign and through election day.
So while she declared the race over, Abrams said: "Let's be clear—this is not a speech of concession, because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that. But, my assessment is the law currently allows no further viable remedy. Now, I can certainly bring a new case to keep this one contest alive, but I don't want to hold public office if I need to scheme my way into the post. Because the title of governor isn't nearly as important as our shared title—voters. And that is why we fight on."
"Under the watch of the now former secretary of state," she said, referring to Kemp, "democracy failed Georgia. Make no mistake, the former secretary of state was deliberate and intentional in his actions. I know that eight years of systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence had its desired affect on the electoral process in Georgia."
Watch the key moments:
As journalist and voting rights expert Ari Berman wrote on Friday, the Georgia race for governor was the "clearest example in decades of what rigged elections look like."
1.5 million purged by Brian Kemp
53k registrations on hold
4.5 hour lines
214 polling places closed
Dems falsely accused of cyber crimes
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Candidate overseeing own election
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) November 16, 2018
But both Abrams' message and the speech itself won immediate applause.
"I want a podcast called Speeches that is just recordings of politicians giving great speeches," said Ben Wikler of MoveOn.org. "And I want Stacey Abrams’s speech to be the first episode."
@staceyabrams "The antidote to injustice is #progress.The cure for this malpractice is a fight for fairness in every election." Thank you sis' for your vision & vigilance. Count me in. #democracysquad pic.twitter.com/nZxY9kpfvj
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) November 17, 2018
Stacey Abrams with a lesson for all of us on how to think about norms (and norm erosion)— political niceties that obscure and repress the serious fight for a just and rightful democracy that is only beginning. pic.twitter.com/qwpbKxFQ1N
— Nikhil Pal Singh (@nikhil_palsingh) November 17, 2018
"The fight against voter suppression is so far from over. The election may have ended, but Stacey Abrams ignited a fire in the hearts of Georgia voters," said Senator Nikema Williams, state director in Georgia for Care in Action, a national organization which advocates for domestic workers. "White supremacy is alive and well in the deep south, and as a Black woman state senator, I am reminded of that every single day. This is NOT just about one election. It's about the systematic disenfranchisement of Black voters. We lived through Jim Crow once, and we are not going back. Stacey, we stand with you."
While Abrams said she will no longer contest the results, she did announce the creation of a new group aimed at fixing the state's election system and said she plans to file a "major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions."