Sarah Riggs Amico delivers remarks at the Democratic Party of Georgia's 2018 state convention in Atlanta.

Sarah Riggs Amico delivers remarks at the Democratic Party of Georgia's 2018 state convention in Atlanta.

Less than a year after losing the race to lead the Georgia State Senate, Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico has announced her campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Amico, who runs car-hauling business Jack Cooper Holdings, said in a campaign launch video that “these are times that test our faith,” and shared her vision to help “build a government as good as the people of Georgia” if elected.

“We need leaders who will renew our faith in America’s loftiest ideals,” she said.  

Amico said her experience running for lieutenant governor last year gives her a leg up on her primary opponents, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry.

“I’m the only candidate that’s actually run statewide,” she said. “I’m the only candidate that can say they’ve received 1.8 million votes – which, by the way, is 400,000 more than David Perdue has ever received.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) defeated Democratic challenger Michelle Nunn by nearly 200,000 votes to win his first term in 2014.

Amico said campaigning across the state alongside gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams last fall helps her understand what it takes to expand the electorate and get more people to vote.

“I have infrastructure and statewide relationships, I sat in 150 counties’ worth of living rooms last year,” she said. “I understand what the people in Georgia are looking for.

The main thing Georgians are looking for is someone who can listen, and “use two ears and one mouth in the proportions in which God gave them to us,” she added.

Campaign watchers wondered whether a bankruptcy protection filing entered earlier in August by Amico’s company might halt her exploration of running, but she said that process strengthened her resolve to run.

“Our company was pushed to the brink of extinction, but we got very lucky,” she said. “We were able to pre-negotiate a restructuring that saves all 3,000 jobs without a single wage concession, without a single cut to health care benefits, keeps our unions and keeps our guys in proper union retirement plans.”

The move helped Jack Cooper Ventures shed several hundred million dollars in debt and away from a “$2 billion pension liability that would have eventually put us out of business,” she said.

She said this summer’s experience, plus inaction by Congress on issues ranging from affordable health care to the economy, spurred her to run for office.

“I can’t afford to wait for someone else, let alone David Perdue, try and fix these problems,” she said. “I don’t want any other workers to go through what my people have gone through in our business.

Supporters of Sen. Perdue have latched on to the bankruptcy in the wake of her announcement.

“She can’t be trusted to be an advocate for the people of this state,” John Burke with the pro-Perdue Georgia Action Fund said in a statement. “Self-proclaimed businesswoman Sarah Riggs Amico ran her company into the ground but now she's asking Georgia families for a new job in the United States Senate.”

Fellow candidate Ted Terry tweeted a link Tuesday showing several hundred dollars in campaign donations Amico made to Republican Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign, adding he was “proud to support Barack Obama when he ran for re-election.”

Amico, who was endorsed by President Obama in her race last year, called the jab a “heat loss” that takes energy away from actual problems Democrats are trying to solve across the country.

“I’m not going to spend my time tearing other Democrats down,” she said. “I’m running on my record, I know who I am.”

Hearkening back to her 2018 campaign, Amico said she is a proud Georgia Democrat and is focusing on reaching Democratic voters as well as ”those who don’t feel a particular home, politically.”

Last year, the Democratic Party of Georgia ran its largest coordinated campaign operation, and turnout jumped for Democrats and Republicans in a nationally-watched race for governor between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams.

Abrams announced in April she would not run for Senate and would expand her voter protection effort Fair Fight ahead of next fall’s election instead.

Amico says the biggest focus to keep the momentum up for next year is to show up and engage voters and hear their concerns.

“I intend to be in 159 counties between now and next November, and by the way, I intend to continue going as the next United States Senator from Georgia,” she said.

This article was updated at 5:50 p.m.