Jones pummels a ‘missing’ Raffensperger in scathing attack ad

The digital spot could be a prelude to a 2026 race
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks to the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce in Tucker on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. (Katelyn Myrick/

Credit: Katelyn Myrick/AJC

Credit: Katelyn Myrick/AJC

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks to the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce in Tucker on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. (Katelyn Myrick/

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones launched a scathing attack ad Monday against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger that accuses the state’s top election official of going “missing” in what could be a prelude to a bitter 2026 race between the two Republican rivals.

The digital ad featured Raffensperger’s image on a milk carton as the narrator asks about his whereabouts -- a reference to Raffensperger’s decision earlier this month to skip a Senate hearing on upgrades to the state’s electronic voting system.

“How are we supposed to have safe, secure, honest elections if our state’s chief elections officer is missing?” said the narrator in the ad, which also accused Raffensperger of not attending a Senate appropriations hearing since 2020.

Raffensperger’s office dismissed the attacks, saying he is “fully focused on a successful 2024 election.”

“While desperate politicians and election deniers work to discredit the outcome of next year’s election, we will continue to focus on preparing our counties for a smooth, secure and successful election,” said Jordan Fuchs, his top deputy.

Raffensperger has been targeted by fellow Republicans since 2020, when then-President Donald Trump and his allies blamed him for his election defeat. Then-U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue took the extraordinary step of calling on him to resign.

And while Raffensperger’s rejection of Trump’s demand that he “find” enough votes to overturn the election made him a hero to some Georgia voters, it cemented him as a villain to some of the former president’s loyalists.

But Monday’s attack marked a new level of vitriol between two Republicans on opposite sides of a stark Trump dividing line.

Jones won an open race for Georgia’s No. 2 job last year with Trump’s support, while Raffensperger demolished a Trump-backed challenge ahead of his reelection victory.

Both Republicans are widely viewed as contenders for higher office in 2026, when the governor’s job is up for grabs and Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff is on the ballot.

Loeffler, another likely 2026 candidate, has also painted a bullseye on Raffensperger. Her political organization, Greater Georgia, released a records request last month that showed Raffensperger had spent 42 days in his office the first nine months of the year.

“Voters are entrusting our elections to a Secretary of State who has spent more time glad-handing liberal elites and attacking conservatives as ‘election deniers’ than addressing legitimate security issues,” said Loeffler.

Raffensperger’s aides note he has spoken at dozens of events around the state and nation this year to counter Trump-backed lies that Georgia’s election was “rigged” and work to restore confidence in the state’s voting system.

Jones is taking other steps to seed the ground for his next steps. He has stepped up his efforts to build a conservative policy platform, including plans to pay teachers $10,000 to carry weapons at schools, rollback business regulations and require kids to get their parents’ permission to create social media accounts. And he is the highest-ranking Georgia Republican to endorse Trump’s comeback bid.

In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of likely Republican voters published in August, both Jones and Raffensperger had similar approval ratings. But far more voters were undecided about Jones (45%) compared to Raffensperger (23%).

Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones said he supports devoting more state dollars to hire armed security officers for K-12 schools. (Arvin Temkar/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

The Georgia Senate, which Jones leads, has become a hotbed of Raffensperger pushback.

Senate GOP leaders have backed legislation to ban ballot drop boxes and expand the ability of Georgia residents to challenge the eligibility of other voters.

In July, Jones urged Raffensperger to take more steps to upgrade the state’s Dominion voting machines following a closed-door election security meeting at the Capitol.

And at a Senate Ethics Committee meeting this month, GOP senators grilled elections officials about potential vulnerabilities in the version of Dominion software currently in use.

Dominion’s system, which relies on touchscreens and printed-out ballots, has come under fire since the 2020 election, especially from Trump backers following his narrow defeat in Georgia. Multiple investigations and recounts have confirmed the results.

Raffensperger was absent from that meeting, instead attending a long-planned Rotary Club meeting and visit to elections offices in south Georgia. His absence outraged Jones’ allies in the Senate, with one lawmaker calling Raffensperger a “ghost.”

Blake Evans, the state elections director, (left) speaks during a state Senate Ethics Committee hearing on election security at the Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building in Atlanta on Wednesday, November 1, 2023. (Arvin Temkar /


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