Stacey Abrams launches campaign for Georgia governor

Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who came within striking distance of winning the Georgia governor’s mansion in 2018, announced on Wednesday that she would run once again to be the state's chief executive. 

Abrams has been expected for months to launch a second bid for governor. No other Democrat has entered the Georgia gubernatorial race and with Abrams’s announcement on Wednesday, it’s unlikely that any other candidate will seek the party’s nomination. 

Abrams announced her campaign in a video touting her work in Georgia since her 2018 loss to Gov. Brian KempBrian KempAbrams treads carefully in relationship with Biden  Four states declare states of emergency ahead of weekend snowstorm Stacey Abrams's shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations MORE (R) by a scant 1.4 percentage points.

“Our values are still strong, no matter where we come from in Georgia or how long we’ve been here, we believe in this place and our people; folks who deserve to be seen and heard and have a voice,” Abrams says in the video. “Because in the end we are one Georgia.”

Unlike when she launched her first bid for governor in 2017, Abrams begins her latest campaign as a household name. She gained superstar status among Democrats in 2018 when she nearly beat Kemp and even landed on President BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE’s shortlist of potential running mates in 2020.

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She has been an outspoken advocate for new federal voting rights legislation, as well as a particularly vocal critic of recent efforts by Republican-controlled state legislatures to impose new voting restrictions.

Her candidacy sets the stage for one of the most competitive governor’s races of the 2022 midterm elections. It also tees up a potential rematch with Kemp, though he’ll first have to make it through a primary of his own.

A handful of Republicans have launched primary campaigns against Kemp so far. While he has yet to draw a heavyweight challenger, former Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueAbrams treads carefully in relationship with Biden  Stacey Abrams's shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations Kemp pads out campaign war chest ahead of tough reelection bid MORE (R-Ga.) is said to be considering a run for governor. If he does, Kemp could be in for a long and bruising primary campaign.

Despite Abrams's broad popularity among Democrats and proven fundraising ability, she’s heading into the 2022 governor’s race amid a difficult political environment for her party.

Unlike in 2018 when Republicans controlled Washington, Democrats now hold the White House and majorities in both chambers of Congress. What’s more, Biden’s approval rating has plummeted in recent months and polling shows that most Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.

Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist, said that those political headwinds will inevitably affect the kind of campaign Abrams will have to run if she hopes to flip the Georgia governor’s mansion next year.

“What happens upstream is going to matter downstream,” Seawright said. “There are some factors that are out of her control that she has to consider in the process.”