Georgian Secretary of State Raffensperger defeats Trump ally

ATLANTA — Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who was a top target for former President Donald Trump, has won the Republican primary as he seeks re-election.

Raffensperger defeated three challengers, including Trump-endorsed U.S. Representative Jody Hice, who had criticized his handling of the 2020 election. It was not immediately clear which Democrat he would face in November.

“What I found out is that every Georgian wants safe and secure elections with the right balance between accessibility and security. This is where voting is in Georgia today,” Raffensperger told reporters. Tuesday night after declaring victory.

Raffensperger was among Trump’s top targets when the former president turned his anger on top Georgia officials for failing to take action to reverse his narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the state. Trump insisted without proof that the victory was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud.

In a now-notorious January 2021 phone call, Trump suggested that Raffensperger might “find” enough votes to undo President Biden’s victory. That led an Atlanta prosecutor to open an investigation into whether Trump and others tried to illegally influence the state’s election. This investigation is ongoing.

“If you don’t understand what happened in the 2020 election, here’s what happened – 28,000 Georgians skipped the presidential race and yet voted against the ballot in other races,” said Raffensperger.

Hice fully embraced Trump’s false 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.

Asked by a reporter if his victory was a direct rebuke from Trump, Raffensperger replied, “No, I think it’s a direct compliment to the goodness of my fellow Georgians.”

On the Democratic side, State Rep. Bee Nguyen, who takes the seat previously held by Democratic gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, advanced to a runoff.

It was too early to say which of the other four Democratic candidates she will face in the June 21 contest. They are Floyd Griffin, state senator and former mayor of the town of Milledgeville; Michael Owens, former chairman of the Cobb County Democratic Party; John Eaves, former chairman of the Fulton County Commission; and Dee Dawkins-Haigler, a former state representative from DeKalb County.

Nguyen’s campaign released a press release early Wednesday saying her “dominant position” makes it clear she is in the best position to beat Raffensperger.

“Georgians deserve a Secretary of State who will fight for the right of every eligible voter to have their voice heard at the ballot box, regardless of party affiliation, zip code or skin color,” said said Nguyen. “I’m running to be Secretary of State because our basic civil liberties begin at the ballot box.”

Nguyen has served in the State House since winning a special election in 2017 to succeed Abrams in a district that includes parts of DeKalb County just east of the Fulton county line and parts of the city ​​of Atlanta. Nguyen is also the vice chairman of the state Democratic Party.

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