Dec. 1 (Reuters) – Voting activist Stacey Abrams said Wednesday that she is running again for governor of Georgia, aiming for a possible rematch against Republican governor Brian Kemp in a state that is becoming a major battlefield in the U.S. Has become elections.

“Opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn’t be determined by your zip code, background or access to power,” said Abrams, a Democrat, in a video that launched her campaign. “If our Georgia is to open its next and biggest chapter, we need leadership.”

Abrams, 47, a former Georgia House member, attorney, entrepreneur, and novelist, became a Democratic national figurehead after losing a highly competitive gubernatorial race to Kemp by just 55,000 votes in 2018.

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Since that defeat, which many Democrats attributed to electoral repression, Abrams has built a reputation as an advocate nationwide and founded the organization Fair Fight. Many Democrats credited her with boosting the party’s turnout in 2020, when President Joe Biden became the first Democrat to run the state in a presidential election in nearly three decades.

Two months after Biden’s victory, the Democrats swept two Senate races in Georgia to give them control of the U.S. Senate. A match between Abrams and Kemp next year would offer a test of whether these victories reflected a more lasting Democratic lead in a diversifying and growing southern state, or whether they were fueled by antipathy towards Republican former President Donald Trump.

Georgia has not had a Democratic governor since Roy Barnes left in 2003. If she wins next November, Abrams, whom Biden once considered a potential vice president, would be the first black woman to be elected state governor.

Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams speaks ahead of former President Barack Obama’s address in Atlanta, Georgia, the day before the election, Nov. 2, 2020. REUTERS / Brandon Bell / File Photo

Kemp, who is running for re-election, responded Wednesday by saying Abrams closed the state over COVID-19 and allowed “Politics Woke Up” to be part of school lessons.

“I am fighting Stacey Abrams, the failed Biden agenda, and their awakened allies to keep Georgia the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Kemp said on Twitter.

Kemp could face a difficult major battle within his own party after defying Trump’s call to convince Georgia state lawmakers to reverse 2020 presidential results, which show Biden beat Trump.

Kemp has since signed into law that includes Republican-sponsored election restrictions that could have a large impact on the conduct of the Georgia election in 2022 and the US presidential contest in 2024.

Proponents say the legislation is needed to protect elections and restore voter confidence in the process. Opponents say it grew out of the Republican Party’s “Big Lie,” the false claim that Biden’s defeat at Trump in November 2020 was the result of widespread fraud.

In an interview posted on Wednesday’s Reuters Next conference, Abrams said she remains optimistic that Congress will pass federal laws to promote and protect voting rights despite Republican opposition. Continue reading

Georgia will vote in the parliamentary and gubernatorial elections next November. Raphael Warnock, a Baptist preacher from the former Church of Martin Luther King Jr., who was elected to the Senate in a special election in January, is also up for re-election for a six-year term.

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Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Joseph Ax; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Adler

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