Atlanta – Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger faces a tough primary challenge on Tuesday, nearly two years after he drew the ire of former President Donald Trump for refusing to try to undo the loss of Trump facing Democrat Joe Biden in the state.
Trump was quick to endorse U.S. Representative Jody Hice last year when he announced he would challenge Raffensperger. The secretary of state was a prime target among many senior state officials whom Trump blamed for his loss to Georgia, which has long reliably voted for Republican presidential candidates. Trump also lambasted GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who is battling a Trump-endorsed candidate in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary.
Hice fully embraced Trump’s bogus claims that the 2020 election was stolen and opposed Georgia’s electoral votes being counted for Biden. State and federal officials, including Trump’s own attorney general, said there was no evidence of widespread fraud. The votes in Georgia’s presidential election were counted three times, and each count confirmed Biden’s victory.
All three GOP primary challengers — Hice, former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle and former probate judge and magistrate TJ Hudson — criticized Raffensperger’s handling of the 2020 election, saying he had causes Georgians to lose faith in the system.
Raffensperger hit back, strongly defending his record and insisting Georgia’s elections are fair and safe. He also made banning non-citizens from voting – a platform popular with conservative Republicans already enshrined in Georgia law – a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.
Trump’s obsession with his electoral defeat and his unproven claims of widespread fraud have shed light on declining secretary of state races across the country.
In a notorious phone call on January 2, 2021, Trump suggested that Raffensperger might “find” enough votes to swing the outcome of the state’s presidential election in his favor. Raffensperger’s reluctance to bow to Trump’s pressure has raised his profile across the country.
On the Democratic side, five candidates are fighting for the nomination of their party. All defended the right to vote and criticized a sweeping election law passed by Republicans in the General Assembly in 2021 that shortened the time to request an absentee ballot, added an ID requirement, restricted drop boxes and stripped the Secretary of State from his seat. in the State Electoral Council, among others.
State Rep. Bee Nguyen, who fills the seat formerly held by Democratic gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, leads the group in fundraising and has landed major endorsements. The other candidates are: Floyd Griffin, state senator and former mayor of the town of Milledgeville; former Cobb County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Owens; John Eaves, former chairman of the Fulton County Commission; and Dee Dawkins-Haigler, a former state representative from DeKalb County.