Stacey Abrams says she won't run for Georgia Senate seat

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Wednesday ruled out running for the Senate next year following news that Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonCollins seeks appointment to Isakson seat McBath passes on running for Senate Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 MORE (R-Ga.) would retire.

"Our thoughts are with Senator Isakson and his family. Leader Abrams' focus will not change: she will lead voter protection efforts in key states across the country, and make sure Democrats are successful in Georgia in 2020," an Abrams spokesman said in a statement.

"While she will not be a candidate herself, she is committed to helping Democratic candidates win both Senate races next year."

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A special election will be held next year to fill the seat being vacated by Isakson, 74, who said earlier Wednesday he would retire at the end of 2019, citing health issues.

Isakson's announcement sparked immediate talk that Democrats would try to get Abrams, who lost the state's 2018 gubernatorial race, to run for Isakson's seat in the special election.

The special election will be held to fill the remaining two years of Isakson’s term during the next regularly scheduled election, meaning Georgia voters will cast ballots for both of the state's Senate seats in 2020, when Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is also up for reelection.

Abrams became something of a Democratic superstar last year during her gubernatorial bid against then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R). While Kemp eventually notched a narrow 1-point victory in the race, Abrams’s candidacy prompted a surge in voter turnout and shined a national spotlight on what she has alleged to be voter suppression in Georgia.

Republicans swept every statewide office in Georgia in 2018, but Democrats are increasingly optimistic about their chances there, pointing to Abrams’s near-win in last year’s gubernatorial race and recent demographic shifts.

Abrams’s announcement that she would forgo a run for Isakson’s seat is the second time in a matter of weeks that she has ruled out a Senate bid.

She was previously considered a top recruit to challenge Perdue in 2020, but declined to launch a campaign, saying that she would instead focus on combating voter suppression through her advocacy group Fair Fight.

Still, there’s speculation that Abrams could be a top pick for the Democrats’ vice presidential nomination in 2020. She has not ruled out serving in that capacity, telling The New York Times in an interview earlier this month that she “would be honored to be considered by any nominee.”