ATLANTA — With Stacey Abrams saying no thank you to a 2020 U.S. Senate run, Democrats are now left to find another candidate who will represent the party against incumbent and Republican David Perdue.
Georgia voters haven't elected a Democratic Senator in more than a decade. Democrat and former Georgia Governor Zell Miller served in the Senate from 2000 to 2005.
Perdue was elected in 2014 when he defeated Michelle Nunn by 8 percent - or nearly 200,000 votes. 11Alive reached out to Nunn Tuesday, but she was unavailable for interviews.
Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson's campaign is all but official. On Tuesday morning a new photo on her Facebook account featured a "U.S. Senate 2020" logo and her Twitter biography now calls her a "Candidate for U.S. Senate in GA."
Tomlinson's staff told 11Alive a "formal announcement" will happen on Wednesday. She tweeted Tuesday morning, "Best wishes to my friend @staceyabrams as she considers how she can best serve #Georgia and our country. I intend to keep working with her to turn Georgia #blue!"
Similar to Stacey Abrams, Democrat Jon Ossoff has strong name recognition, in Georgia and beyond.
Ossoff hasn't publicly made a decision on a Senate run, but many learned of his name in 2017 when Republican Karen Handel narrowly defeated him in the 2017 6th District Congressional Special Election. Federal Election Commission financial filings from late March show the Jon Ossoff For Congress campaign committee still had more than $400,000 in cash on hand.
He sent a text to 11Alive's Joe Henke Tuesday and said the following:
"Whoever decides to run, and whether or not I'm a candidate for any office, our goal should be to elect a Senator who has the decency to stand up for Georgians who need help, the skill to deliver resources like disaster relief to our state, and the integrity to uphold standards of conduct that we expect of our public servants."
Other potential candidates include Sarah Riggs Amico, who recently ran for Georgia Lieutenant Governor against Geoff Duncan. A spokeswoman for Amico said she is "strongly considering" announcing a Senate bid.
Amico emailed 11Alive the following statement:
"The political dysfunction paralyzing Washington is actively harming Georgia workers and families, and we can't allow it to go unchallenged. We deserve bold inclusive policies that lift up and engage all communities across Georgia, and in the coming weeks, I'm going to be listening to Georgians from around the state to determine if I'm the candidate to drive that vision forward."
There has also been speculation around Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church for years in local and national publications, about his potential interest in a Senate run.
Services at Ebenezer are often a campaign stop for political candidates when in Atlanta and Warnock has been heavily involved in voter registration drives. Warnock was also arrested in Washington, D.C. alongside other clergy members in 2017 while peacefully protesting Republican proposed budget and healthcare plans.
Sources close to Warnock told 11Alive he was unavailable for interviews on Tuesday.
No matter who runs, University of Georgia Political Science Professor Charles Bullock said Abrams' decision hurts Democrats, but her 2018 bid for the governor's office still helps the party.
Bullock said Abrams mobilized voters last year, who usually don't head to the polls. Now the party has information on those voters and they have a better chance of getting those voters back to the polls in 2020.
Perdue's position as the incumbent running against an opponent that isn't Stacey Abrams though could hurt Democrats.
"Whoever picks up the ball and runs with it, and I expect there will be a Democratic primary to choose a person to confront David Perdue is going to have to spend a lot more money just getting his or her name out than Abrams would," Bullock said. "If Abrams runs her name is probably as good or high of name recognition as the incumbent, which you usually don't get. The challenger is usually a bit behind."
FEC filings show Perdue's campaign has $3,282,000 on hand. A spokeswoman for the incumbent told 11Alive he is running in 2020, but if re-elected, his second term would be his last in the U.S. Senate.
“Senator Perdue is an outsider in Washington who has consistently demonstrated that he is a different kind of leader with a proven record of bipartisan results," his spokesperson said. "He is working every day to change the direction of our country, and he is focused on fighting for all Georgians.”
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