The Jolt: Brad Raffensperger: ‘Yes, I’m running again’

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a press conference in Atlanta. Georgia’s State Election Board met Wednesday, April 28, 2021, for the first time without Raffensperger as chair after lawmakers removed him from the role in a new election law. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a press conference in Atlanta. Georgia’s State Election Board met Wednesday, April 28, 2021, for the first time without Raffensperger as chair after lawmakers removed him from the role in a new election law. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Credit: John Bazemore

Credit: John Bazemore

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has become the full-time scapegoat for former President Donald Trump and the Georgia GOP, who all falsely claim the secretary of state somehow stood by while the 2020 elections were rigged against Trump.

But Raffensperger was in friendly territory Tuesday when he spoke to the Rotary Club of Gwinnett County, where he confirmed again that he’s running for reelection in 2022.

He’s got an uphill battle ahead of him, with a primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who has joined Trump in false claims about the 2020 elections, and state Rep. Bee Nguyen, a rising Democratic star, in the race, too. Two other Republicans - David Belle Isle and T.J. Hudson - are also running.

Raffensperger, a Republican engineer from Johns Creek, was introduced by Gwinnett-based journalist Elliott Brack as “the most famous secretary of state in the country, no, the world.”

A cheerful Raffensperger started his speech by imagining how life would be different if politicians started each day with Rotary’s “four-way test.”

“Just imagine what we could accomplish for America...if they said every morning, ‘Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships?’”

And he sounded more like an Attorney General when he pointed to the rule of law as the most essential element in the American democratic process.

“Now I’ve lived it and I can tell you it’s very important to the very fabric of society and us as Americans,” he said. “When the time came to choose I had to make a decision. And I came down on the side of the rule of law.”

He said he also understood that other Republicans were surprised and disappointed when the votes were counted in 2020.

“But we can’t let making the right call to defend the Republic be punished...for doing their jobs, basically following the law, following the process.”

The state’s chief elections officer also defended Senate Bill 202, the state’s new election law, specifically the new absentee voter ID requirements, which he called objective instead of subjective, and the move to shorten the state’s previous nine-week runoff process.

“Why are we changing? To help restore confidence,” he said.

During the Q&A that followed, the question came, “Do you enjoy your job and are you running again?”

The answer: “I still enjoy the job and, yes, I’m running again.”

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JUST POSTED: Also in the hunt for reelection is Gov. Brian Kemp, who sat down Tuesday with one of your Insiders to talk about what he’s planning. From the interview:

“One of the things that happened in '18 was I got defined as someone I wasn't, and the way I was defined turned out to be false," he said. “That's not going to happen this time because people know where I stand."

The governor added: “Voters are smart. You can't play them. They're going to figure out who you are, what you believe in, what you stand for. And I'm going to remind them of my record, an agenda that's been really good for a lot of people. I think that's a message that can build the party in Georgia."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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The top executives at online gambling giant FanDuel were blunt about their decision to pick Atlanta for a giant new tech hub that will one day employ more than 900 staffers in a state that still outlaws sports betting.

From the AJC story:

“We want to bring the excitement of our product to Georgia residents when and if the Legislature decides to take that up. And we'll support that if they do. But we feel Atlanta is best for our long-term growth," said Chris Jones, a FanDuel vice president. “We didn't approach this with the mindset that moving here begets legislation."

In an interview Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp backed up the sentiment. He's among the Georgia Republicans who staunchly opposes legalized gambling. But he's also indicated he wouldn't stand in the way of a constitutional amendment to allow betting if a majority of voters backed the idea.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Said Kemp:

“My position hasn’t changed on gambling. That issue has been floating around for years. My position is the same – the general assembly is going to have to drive that if it’s going to move. I just personally think we have so many good things going for us here, I would not want to alter that. Others may think differently on that issue.”

***

The U.S. House passed an anti-Asian hate crimes bill, with 147 Republicans joining 217 Democrats in approving the measure.

A majority of Georgia’s GOP delegation, however, opposed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

U.S. Reps. Drew Ferguson, of West Point, and Austin Scott, of Tifton, were the only two Georgia Republicans who voted in favor of the measure.

Biden could sign the bill into law as soon as Thursday. The House this afternoon will take a vote on a separate resolution condemning the Atlanta spa shootings.

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U.S. House Democrats are bracing for the possibility that some of their rising stars could soon be victims of redistricting in Republican controlled states, including Georgia.

A report in Politico this aside:

“In Georgia, Republicans plan to ax the district of either (Rep. Carolyn) Bourdeaux or Rep. Lucy McBath, leaving the two Democrats to fight over just one blue seat in the northern Atlanta suburbs. Democrats in the state are aware of the looming prospect, and some have quietly begun whispering that Bourdeaux should look into a run for lieutenant governor.”

***

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams has been appointed vice chair of the Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. In this role, the Atlanta Democrat will help oversee investigations and inquiries into the agencies and industries that fall under the full committee’s jurisdiction, including banks, insurance, housing and federal agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve.

***

The U.S. House on Wednesday passed a bill sponsored by Georgia Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, that is intended to improve access to banking and other financial services in underprivileged communities.

The Financial Inclusion in Banking Act was approved as part of a package of roughly 20 noncontroversial and bipartisan measures.

***

Add Manswell Peterson, an Albany-based Democrat, to the list of candidates running to unseat Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger.

The Navy veteran and former Albany police officer puts voting rights at the top of the issues he says he’d work for in office.

Also in the running for the post are state Rep. Bee Nguyen, D-Atlanta, and U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, the Republican from Greensboro.

***

Even with him out of the race for lieutenant governor, some people cannot quit trolling Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.

A quick visit to www.DuncanforGeorgia.com takes you instead to the home page for Fair Fight, Stacey Abrams’ voting rights organization.

For the Duncan fans among you, www.TeamDuncan.org is still alive and well.

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