Raffensperger wins Republican primary for Georgia secretary of state

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice defeated; Democrats head to runoff

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won the Republican nomination for reelection Tuesday, avoiding a runoff by overcoming three challengers and former President Donald Trump’s wrath.

Raffensperger defeated U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who has said he doesn’t believe the results of the 2020 presidential election and objected to counting Georgia’s electoral votes for Democrat Joe Biden.

Known for his refusal of Trump’s demand that he “find” more votes, Raffensperger campaigned as a candidate who would stand up for election integrity.

Georgia’s race for secretary of state gained national attention because the position comes with the power to oversee and certify election results. In the 2020 election, Biden won Georgia by less than 12,000 votes against Trump.

It’s unclear who Raffensperger will face in the November general election. The Democratic primary for secretary of state appeared to be heading toward a runoff in four weeks.

ExploreRace for Georgia election chief focused on fallout of 2020

Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen led four challengers but was short of the 50% of votes needed to avoid a runoff.

Nguyen, who represents the state House seat once held by Democrat Stacey Abrams, would face former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, according to partial vote counts.

The results of the Republican primary are a blow to Trump, who had endorsed Hice and frequently criticized Raffensperger. Trump called Georgia’s election “a complete disaster” and said Hice would “stop the fraud.” Recounts, court cases and investigations upheld the results of the 2020 race.

“At the end of the day, we had an election where we verified and investigated every single allegation,” Raffensperger said this month. “This job requires someone to follow the law, to walk that line of integrity.”

Raffensperger defeated Hice, former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle and former Probate Judge T.J. Hudson.

Raffensperger might have benefited from Democratic voters who decided to vote in the Republican primary so they could prevent Hice and other Trump supporters from being elected. Georgia is an open primary state, meaning voters can participate in either party’s primary without having to be a member of that party.

About 7% of voters in this year’s Republican primary previously cast ballots in the Democratic primary in 2020, according to state election data analyzed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While Raffensperger defied Trump’s request to alter the outcome of the presidential election, he has emphasized his Republican credentials as he sought a second term.

Raffensperger campaigned on his support for absentee voting ID requirements and a constitutional amendment to prevent noncitizen voting, which state law already prohibits.

The Democratic candidates highlighted their opposition to Georgia’s voting law, which limited absentee ballot drop boxes, added voter ID requirements, curtailed online ballot requests and allowed state takeovers of county election offices.

Combined ShapeCaption
Five Democrats running for Georgia secretary of state participated in a debate by the Atlanta Press Club on Monday, May 2, 2022. From left: Dee Dawkins-Haigler, John Eaves, Floyd Griffin, Bee Nguyen and Michael Owens.

Credit: Atlanta Press Club

Five Democrats running for Georgia secretary of state participated in a debate by the Atlanta Press Club on Monday, May 2, 2022. From left: Dee Dawkins-Haigler, John Eaves, Floyd Griffin, Bee Nguyen and Michael Owens.

Credit: Atlanta Press Club

Combined ShapeCaption
Five Democrats running for Georgia secretary of state participated in a debate by the Atlanta Press Club on Monday, May 2, 2022. From left: Dee Dawkins-Haigler, John Eaves, Floyd Griffin, Bee Nguyen and Michael Owens.

Credit: Atlanta Press Club

Credit: Atlanta Press Club

Nguyen said she would uphold election results and seek to expand voting access.

“This race is about the future of our democracy,” Nguyen said. “There’s a nationalized campaign that is targeting secretary of states, including in Georgia, for one reason and for one reason only: to hijack our election system.”

Dawkins-Haigler said she would fight Republican efforts in the General Assembly to impose voting restrictions.

“They have suppressed votes by making it harder to vote, by adding an extra identification, and they just make an overall bad place to be when it comes to vote,” Dawkins-Haigler said.

The other Democratic candidates in the race were former Cobb County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Owens, former Milledgeville Mayor Floyd Griffin and former Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves.