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Read Stacey Abrams’ Promise to Georgia After Her Gubernatorial Loss

The Spelman grad expressed graciousness and gratitude while thanking supporters and staff.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams gives her concession speech to supporters Tuesday night in Atlanta. Abrams lost her second bid for governor to incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Even in defeat, Stacey Abrams keeps fighting.

The Spelman grad conceded victory to GOP incumbent Brian Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial election late Tuesday night before delivering a rousing speech to her supporters inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Atlanta.

“While I may not have crossed the finish line, that does not mean we will ever stop running for a better Georgia,” Abrams told the cheering crowd of revelers.

Kemp received 2,109,049 (53.44%) of votes, according to the secretary of state’s office. Abrams came in second with 1,809,300 of votes, (45.85%). Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel came in a distant third with 28,072, (0.71%) of votes cast.

The race will not go to a runoff since Kemp exceeded the 50% plus one margin of victory needed to win the general election outright.

During her speech, Abrams listed the many reasons she decided to run for governor a second time, detailing the quality-of-life challenges Georgians have faced in recent years.

Below is a transcript of her speech:

It is good to be here in this moment, surrounded by your love and support. And let me begin by offering congratulations to Gov. Brian Kemp.

Our state has experienced one soul-crushing crisis after another over the past few years, but even during these trying times, the fighting spirit of Georgia has prevailed. We’ve seen what’s possible when we stand up for our neighbors and protect each other. We’ve made sacrifices. We’ve pitched in. We’ve seen each other’s fights as our own. And we’ve done things we never thought we could. It is in the spirit of that endurance and that persistence that I decided again to run for governor. 

Look, I got into this race for one reason and one reason only — to fight. And not just any fight. A fight to save Georgia. A fight on behalf of our children and generations to come. A fight on behalf of our people, whether they know it or not. A fight for basic human rights that we should take for granted, but we have to struggle to hold onto. And a fight for the values that we hold dear and we may never sacrifice. I got into this for a fight for what we know to be true deep down in our bones, that the state of Georgia, the people of Georgia, deserve more.

Over the last year, in big cities and small towns, in living rooms and classrooms across the state, I have met thousands of people face to face. It feels like 2.3 million. And here’s what I know for sure. We come from different backgrounds, different religions, speak different languages. We have different dreams, and we feel passionate about different issues in very different ways. But despite our differences, despite what people will tell us separates us, for the most part, we want the same things. We want to live in a Georgia that works for everyone. A Georgia where every person has a voice in our democracy and doesn’t have to show up early to make it so. Because voting is a fundamental right, not a privilege for the wealthy few. A Georgia where we can all breathe clean air and drink clean water because we decided to use our power to fix our climate and save our planet, not drill down to take titanium out and spoil what we have in the state of Georgia.

A Georgia where hope lives in the heart of every child, but it sits there, rests there, along with opportunity because we invested in quality public education, a pathway to a life full of dignity, and no shooters in their schools. A Georgia where every person can not only afford to see a doctor, but there’s a hospital if they need one. They can get their prescriptions filled because drug companies and insurance companies aren’t able to block it. And because we’ve expanded Medicaid. Because half a million Georgians deserve access to health care in this state. That is why we fight.

I am talking about the Georgia of our greatest imagination. And here’s what gives me hope. Over the last year across this great state, countless Georgians were ready to come off the sidelines and fight for that Georgia. Standing behind me is one of the most extraordinary women I have ever known. From the moment I got into politics, I have always promised to level with the people of Georgia. And I am here to tell you that what we have architected in this state does not end today, and this woman is one of the reasons why. Lauren Groh-Wargo is our champion, is our friend, and she deserves our praise and our thanks because this is the Georgia she is helping us build.

I’m here because my friend Allegra Lawrence-Hardy is one of the fiercest attorneys you will ever meet. And she has poured her heart and her soul, and her time and her treasure, to defending our rights and our democracy, and she will never be demeaned for doing for us what we can’t do on our own. Thank you, Allegra Lawrence-Hardy.

I see in this crowd women and men who have been a part of this journey since I put my name on a ballot in 2006. And while I may not have crossed the finish line, that does not mean we will ever stop running for a better Georgia. We will never stop running for the truth that we know to be true, for the people we know need to see us, for the ones that don’t know they deserve to stand, let alone run.

And tonight we must be honest. Even though my fight, our fight, for the Governor’s Mansion may have come up short, I’m pretty tall. This is a moment where despite every obstacle, we are still standing strong and standing tall, and standing resolute, and standing in our values. And we know Georgia deserves more and whether we do it from the Governor’s Mansion, or from the streets, or whether we do it from the Capitol, I am doing what is clearly the responsible thing. I am suspending my campaign. I may no longer be seeking the office of governor, but I will never stop doing everything in my power to ensure that the people in Georgia have the choice to run government. There are a lot of decisions I needed to make. But the first choice I made was to put the people at the heart of my campaign. That is why I am proud that over the last year we have shaken the hands of thousands of people — y’all know how I feel about hugs. We are a campaign that not only hires canvassers, we hired outreach directors because we knew we couldn’t ask for your vote when you were trying to find a death certificate for your family members, that we couldn’t ask for your help if you couldn’t pay your rent. And so we started a campaign that paid a living wage to every person we employed, and it modeled the behavior we want for Georgia. Together, we rejected the doubts of the insiders and the cynics and the naysayers, and we chose to run this race for the people. …

We chose to run this race for the people. And we didn’t just make our case to Democrats because of your support. I’ve talked with Georgians of all ages, all backgrounds, from red to blue to purple. And they’re all ready for change. And while they may not have chosen change tonight, they had to think about that. We have planted yet another seed in the soil for our democracy, for a better tomorrow. And that matters.

And so to every volunteer, every organizer, every door knocker, every phone [call] maker, every texter, every prayer warrior, every donor, every labor organizer, every person who lifted more hands and lifted your voices, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Those who voted for me and those who looked at me, thank you for believing in me. And thank you for taking a chance on me. 

While I’m thanking everyone, I have to take a moment and thank my family. My mother and my father, Robert and Carolyn Abrams. And you all heard my story. I come from a big family. My sister Andrea Abrams. My brother Richard Abrams. My brother-in-law, Brandon McClain. My brother-in-law Jimmie Gardner. My niece Faith. My nephew Jordan. My niece Erin. My niece Ryan. My nephew Cameron. My nephew Devin. My cousin Alex. And my sister, Audrey. Janine Abrams McClain. I have another sister, Leslie Abrams, but she’s not allowed to be out here because she’s a judge. You all ground me, you sustained me in times of triumph, you support me, and you bolster me in times of difficulty. I am reminded in the tradition of my friends, Carolyn Hughley and Al Williams and Lisa Borders. And because I come by it honestly, because my parents are Reverend and Reverend Abrams, I am, too, reminded of what Scripture tells us. 2 Corinthians 4:8 says this: We are troubled on every side. Yet not distressed. We are perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not forsaken. Cast dead on but not destroyed. I know the results aren’t what we hoped for tonight. And I understand that you are hurting. And you are disappointed — I am, too. We may not have made it to the finish line. But we ran that race. And we know this path, and we know that running is what matters. That standing is what matters. That defending is what matters.  

And what I know for sure, what I say to DuBose Porter and Rebecca DeHart, what I say to Ashley Robinson and Sarah Beth Gale, what I say to Alan Essig and Jessica Byrd, what I say to Ginny Castiel. And to the whole host of those who stand and fight and run and believe. I say that our vision and our values are never clouded, that our intention is righteous, that our future is bright. And while we may not write the story today, there will always be another chapter, and together we will get it done. Thank you so much.