November 1, 2018 / 10:24 AM / 19 days ago

Oprah backs Stacey Abrams in historic Georgia governor's race

(Reuters) - Media mogul Oprah Winfrey lent her star power on Thursday to Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is vying to become the first female black governor in the United States, while saying she has no political aspirations of her own.

"I am here today because Stacey Abrams cares about the things that matter," Winfrey told a cheering crowd at a Cobb County town hall, citing Abrams' stance on environmental protection, healthcare and gun control.

Winfrey, who said she is a registered independent, has long championed Democratic Party causes and some fans earlier this year tried to encourage her to run against Republican President Donald Trump in 2020.

"I don't want to run, OK?" Winfrey told the crowd. "I'm not trying to test any waters, don't want to go in those waters."

Winfrey also is to appear alongside Abrams at a second town hall later on Thursday in DeKalb County.

Winfrey, 64, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama before his 2008 White House run, and campaigned for the two-term president.

The contentious gubernatorial race between Abrams, a former leader in the state House of Representatives, and her Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, has been marred by accusations of voter suppression.

Slideshow (9 Images)

Last month, former voting rights advocacy groups sued Kemp, whose role makes him Georgia's top election official, accusing the Republican of placing voter registrations on hold to boost his campaign.

Former U.S. President and Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter asked Kemp to resign his position as Georgia's secretary of state, saying his role in state government imperiled popular confidence in the election.

Trump is due in the state on Sunday for a rally supporting Republican candidates including Kemp.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and Bill Trott

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