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Democrat Stacey Abrams has acknowledged that her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, will be the next governor of Georgia, but she says isn't exactly conceding.
Abrams decried voter suppression by Kemp, who in his position as Georgia secretary of state was in charge of elections. He stepped down from the position immediately after this year's election.
"I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election," Abrams said at a Friday press conference, according to NPR. "But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on suppression of the people's democratic right to vote has been truly appalling."
Abrams, who would have been the nation's first black female governor, "had alleged throughout the campaign that Kemp ... had been working to disenfranchise minority voters, deny or delay new registrations and purge voting rolls," NPR reports. Many other political observers voiced similar concerns.
Kemp was "deliberate and intentional in his actions" to suppress the vote, Abrams said. "I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy is not right," she added.
As state officials prepared to certify the vote, Abrams was trailing Kemp by about 55,000 votes and needed to pick up about 17,000 to force the race into a runoff, which would be held December 4, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Her campaign had gone to court to force election officials to reconsider some ballots they had rejected, but she acknowledged Friday that her options had run out.
She does, however, plan to file a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia "for the gross mismanagement of this election," she said, according to NPR. Kemp, for his part, has denied there was any voter suppression.
Abrams is an LGBTQ ally who became the first major-party gubernatorial candidate to march in the Atlanta Pride parade. Kemp, on the other hand, supports legislation that would allow discrimination against LGBTQ people and others in the name of "religious freedom." Outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican who did not run again due to term limits, vetoed such legislation in 2016.