Georgia’s elections chief will face challengers in Republican primary

 U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, and former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle announced their candidacies for Georgia secretary of state Monday by attacking incumbent Brad Raffensperger’s handling of last year’s elections.

Hice, who immediately picked up the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, accused Raffensperger of standing by while widespread election fraud compromised the integrity of Georgia’s elections process.

“Though I am encouraged to see the General Assembly taking it upon themselves to address some of the glaring issues in our elections, Georgia deserves a secretary of state who will own the responsibilities of the office,” Hice said in a prepared statement.

“If elected, I will instill confidence in our election process by upholding the Georgia Constitution, enforcing meaningful reform and aggressively pursuing those who commit voter fraud.”

Belle Isle was runner-up to Raffensperger in the 2018 Republican primary.

“I am running for secretary of state to clean up the mess, secure the mail-in ballot, and restore voter confidence,” Belle Isle said in a prepared statement. “​In the recent elections, we witnessed voter suppression on a massive scale, triggered by voter uncertainty and made worse by the secretary’s poor decisions, carelessness, and failure to lead. … It’s time to hold the secretary of state accountable.”

Raffensperger and other state elections officials have repeatedly refuted claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia during the 2020 election cycle, and multiple federal courts either declined to take up lawsuits filed by disgruntled Republicans or dismissed them.

Trump, who has consistently refused to concede that Biden carried Georgia in the November election, put his stamp of approval on Hice’s 2022 candidacy Monday.

“Unlike the current Georgia secretary of state, Jody leads out front with integrity,” Trump wrote in a prepared statement. “I have 100% confidence in Jody to fight for free, fair, and secure elections in Georgia, in line with our beloved U.S. Constitution.”

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and GOP Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan came to Raffensperger’s defense during the weeks of criticism other Georgia Republicans leveled at the secretary of state.

On Monday, former Georgia Rep. Buzz Brockway, who also unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for secretary of state in 2018, suggested Republicans’ targeting of Raffensperger rather than recently victorious Democrats is misplaced.

“We now have two announced primary challengers to the incumbent SOS (secretary of state) and zero announced candidates against [Democratic U.S.] Sen. Raphael Warnock,” Brockway wrote in a Twitter post. “I’m beginning to question how serious the GOP really is in blocking [President Joe] Biden’s agenda.”

Photo: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (Photo by Beau Evans)

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