Georgia GOP elects election deniers to key posts

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

COLUMBUS – A host of hardline conservative activists who support Donald Trump’s election fraud lies were elected to top party leadership posts by the more than 2,000 delegates to this weekend’s Georgia GOP convention.

The new leaders of the state party, elected in a flurry of votes after Trump’s address on Saturday, include some of the more prominent conspiracy theorists in the state, as well as others who have joined pro-Trump lawsuits seeking to undermine President Joe Biden’s victory.

The party’s new first vice-chair, conservative talk show host Brian Pritchard, has claimed the 2020 election was “stolen” even as he faces allegations of voting illegally nine times while serving a felony sentence. He’s said he’s done nothing wrong.

The second vice-chairman, David Cross, has frequently promoted election fraud theories and is a close ally of Garland Favorito, whose lawsuit alleges counterfeit ballots tainted the 2020 election.

Caroline Jeffords, who won the party secretary role, and Suzi Voyles, the assistant secretary, are both involved in legal complaints claiming counterfeit ballots. Voyles is also a former U.S. House candidate whose campaign focused on her efforts to reverse Trump’s defeat.

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

The new party chair, former state Sen. Josh McKoon, didn’t make the issue a key part of his campaign. But he spoke last week in favor of tapping a Republican activist who has challenged the registrations of nearly 10,000 people to the elections board in heavily-Democratic Fulton County.

“You need the guy who fights back,” McKoon told delegates Saturday during his campaign speech, adding that he’ll “fight back with America’s best election integrity unit to stop them from cheating in 2024.”

The evidence leaves no doubt about Biden’s victory. Three separate tallies of the roughly 5 million ballots upheld Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia, legal challenges by Trump allies have been tossed, Republican election officials have vouched for the results and an audit of absentee ballot signatures in Cobb County found no cases of fraud.

Still, Trump’s unfounded claims of a “rigged” election have seeped deeply into the minds of state Republican voters. A majority of conservatives tell pollsters they don’t believe Biden legitimately won the election, worrying Gov. Brian Kemp and other GOP leaders who urge Republicans to focus on pressing issues such as the economy and public safety rather than obsessing over the 2020 defeat.

“The party really has to coalesce and we need to be focused on broad-based coalitions,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who like Kemp skipped the convention, told Fox News on Saturday. “That’s how you win and that’s how Republicans win not only in Georgia, but nationwide.”

A 2020 flashback

To be clear, most of the newly elected Georgia GOP leaders prevailed over other far-right rivals – not more centrist contenders. The state party has long represented a more hardline brand of conservatism than the general electorate, often creating schisms with elected officials.

Two “fake” GOP electors – Ken Carroll and Vikki Consiglio – both lost races for party posts. Consiglio even touted her participation in the pro-Trump slate, which is now under scrutiny from the ongoing probe by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

“I’m not a fake elector. I’m a real elector. A Trump elector,” she said to the audience, also adding: “Global warming was a hoax, and so was the 2020 election.”

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Two other sham electors are also no longer part of GOP leadership: Shafer didn’t stand for another term, although the party lists him as “chairman emeritus” and he’s a close ally of McKoon. Joseph Brannan, the treasurer, also didn’t seek reelection.

And the lineup of speakers at the two-day event featured some of the nation’s most prominent proponents of election fraud lies surrounding the 2020 election.

Kari Lake, who was the keynote speaker for an opening night gala, contested her November defeat in Arizona’s race for governor as recently as last week, even after courts rejected her claims of fraud.



Favorito delivered a luncheon seminar to delegates. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Rome Republican who still falsely tells audiences that “Trump won Georgia,” revved the crowd up just as delegates arrived.

And Trump used his address to renew his grievances about his failed 2020 reelection bid, telling delegates that he did nothing wrong when he demanded that Raffensperger “find” enough votes to reverse his narrow defeat.

“I had every right to complain that the election in Georgia was, in my opinion, rigged,” he said. “They say I lost. We didn’t lose. We won by a lot.”

After his victory, McKoon sought to turn the page, promising the state GOP that lurched to the party’s fringes and battled irrelevancy under Shafer’s watch will embrace a broader, forward-looking philsophy. So, too, did Pritchard, McKoon’s new deputy.

“The Georgia GOP Convention was a great success, and we are focused on winning in 2024,” Pritchard said. “I can’t remember the last time the party was this unified with one goal: Defeat Biden in 2024. All Republicans know Biden must go.”