Stacey Abrams shed more light on Washington’s efforts to woo her to run for US Senate in Georgia, telling BuzzFeed News' Profile that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been “relentless but thoughtful” in his pursuit in getting the Democrat to run for the office she previously declined before her 2018 campaign for governor.
“He has been relentless but thoughtful, and I mean it in this way: He has asked me what I need to see,” Abrams said. “He's answered the questions that I have about the role about how I would fit into a Senate, whether it’s the majority or the minority.”
Schumer told a group of reporters in Washington on Thursday that it wasn't too late for Abrams to declare her candidacy. “I think she’d be a great, great senator, and I’ve told her I think she could play a major role in the Senate the minute she got here and how important it was to the country,” he said.
Abrams said she still has yet to make a decision on her future. She said Schumer has also been “very creative about ways that I can add to the body politic, should I be in the office. But he also said, you know, ‘The timetable is yours.’”
But with Schumer sweetening the pot, presumably with the power Abrams craves, Abrams revealed another incentive that could indicate how she’s leaning: She thinks Democrats will win the majority in the Senate in 2020.
There are a slew of Democrats interested in pursuing the Georgia Senate seat, including Teresa Tomlinson, the former two-term mayor of Columbus, Georgia. The collective anxiety of the state’s Democrats over Abrams’ decision has not reached a fever pitch, but it exists in large part because of the large shadow cast by the expansion of the electorate last year with Abrams’ candidacy for governor.
That expansion would give the eventual nominee a real chance at unseating Republican Sen. David Perdue. Although Abrams has said that Georgia is a battleground state, thousands of people experienced excruciatingly long lines, and other forms of voter suppression last November. One of the major factors behind her new organization, Fair Fight Action, she has said, was to push back against one of the frustrations that angered her most: that new Democratic-leaning voters she helped bring into the process would be too disappointed to reengage.
“I want to be clear about if I'm going to do it, here's my decision, and if I'm not going to do it, I need to create space for others to have time to build the resources and build the infrastructure they need to run,” she told Profile.
Abrams also said that while she originally intended to make a decision by March, she determined that she needed to spend time selling her book, calling it her “livelihood right now.”
“I was the only person I know of who was on the cover of Time magazine and couldn't sell a book, in part because the campaign interfered, and there were some issues, some shenanigans,” she said. She added that after her publisher decided to reissue her book, she committed to dedicating time to a book tour.
She spoke further on the delicate balance of needing to tend to her personal business, saying that she's “very sensitive to the fact that there are those who are eager to get started if [she's] not going to run,” but that she’s told people interested in the seat they should run if that’s what they want to do.
“If you're deferring to me, that wasn't my request, but it's disingenuous for me not to recognize that I do hold a certain position in the conversation, and I want to make a decision as quickly as possible. But I need to make the right decision, and I need to make a decision that is grounded in my sense of responsibility and not an urgency that comes from an outside force,” she said.
The ongoing saga is part of a convergence between Schumer, former vice president Joe Biden, and the 2020 race for president, which shifted with whispers that Biden would consider launching his presidential race with Abrams as a built-in running mate. Biden was said to be deeply impressed with how Abrams comported herself in her rebuttal to the State of the Union address earlier this year, a tricky, perilous Democratic rite that he thought Abrams knocked out of the park. Biden responded to Ronald Reagan’s address in 1983.
“You know, as I said before, I don't think you run in a primary for second place,” she told BuzzFeed News on Thursday. “If I'm going to run, I'm going to run. I am open to whatever conversations happen after the primary, if I'm not the candidate. And if I am available, I would be open to a conversation with whomever is the nominee if it's not me. Because I think that's an important job, and I think there are ways to think about how you run campaigns in 2020 to win America, not to run against Trump, but to win America. And I think I've developed a playbook that is one that can be used across the country,” she said.