Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger credited his win Tuesday to his management of high turnout elections and pulling off the 2020 election as the COVID-19 pandemic raged. Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder
Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will join Gov. Brian Kemp as the state’s most prominent Donald Trump political targets to avoid a runoff against candidates endorsed by the former president.
With 95% of precincts reporting, Raffensperger led with 51.2% of votes, outpacing U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s 38% and followed by 9% cast for former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle. The challengers were staunch allies of former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims the 2020 stolen election was stolen and Raffensperger shared much of the imagined blame.
Raffensperger’s stunning outright victory came after the state’s top election chief earned the wrath of Trump and many GOP state lawmakers who held kangaroo court legislative hearings in the wake of Trump’s narrow 2020 election defeat to President Joe Biden.
Raffensperger credited his staff and campaign team for securing a win that seemed unlikely to overcome Trump’s wrath.
”A year ago the political pundits on both sides of the aisle said I had 10% support and was hopeless,” he said after securing a chance to run against the winner of a Democratic runoff.
He attributed his win to crisscrossing Georgia 40,000 miles the past year to combat the Trump effect.
“My thinking was the vast majority of Georgians are looking for honest people in elected office, someone who’ll do their job, follow the law and look out for them regardless of the personal cost to do so,” Raffensperger said.
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Raffensperger’s refusal to follow through on Trump’s repeated requests to not certify the election caused him to fall out of favor with many within his own party. Progressives and Democrats applauded Raffensperger for following the rule of law and upholding Biden’s 2020 Georgia win. But his push for a new ID requirement for absentee ballots and support of a GOP election overhaul seemed to help him win back support in his own party.
With Raffensperger’s victory, a Trump-backed candidate in the Georgia primary suffered a second high-profile loss, after former U.S. Sen. David Perdue got drubbed by Gov. Brian Kemp in the Republican race for governor.
Following the 2020 election, Raffensperger, staff and family members received death threats, and Republican lawmakers responded by removing the secretary of state from the State Election Board.
In November’s general election, Raffensperger will face the Democratic nominee for secretary of state.
It appears the Democratic primary will go to a runoff after state Rep. Bee Nguyen received 301,034 votes, or 44%, followed by former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler’s 19% and former Cobb County Democratic Party Chair Michael Owens’ 16.4%.
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