2020 Echoes in Secretary of State Race
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2020 Echoes in Secretary of State Race

Incumbent Republican who defied Trump in potentially close race with Democratic challenger.

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

(Clockwise) Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; Ted Metz; state Rep. Bee Nguyen
(Clockwise) Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; Ted Metz; state Rep. Bee Nguyen

It is difficult to know which Georgia Republican has irritated former President Donald Trump more, Gov. Brian Kemp or Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Possibly the latter. It was Raffensperger who demurred when Trump asked him to “just find me 11,800” votes, to overturn Democrat Joe Biden winning Georgia’s 2020 presidential vote, in a now infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

The Secretary of State’s portfolio also includes licensure and regulation of numerous professions, but it is the role of election overseer that has put a spotlight on a job that, until 2020, received far less than its current media attention.
Raffensperger was elected in 2018 and is seeking a second term. He is opposed by Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen and Libertarian Ted Metz.

Georgia law requires that the winner of an election receive a majority of the votes cast. A survey of 1,076 likely voters, conducted for 11Alive News between Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, found Raffensperger with 39 percent, Nguyen 36 percent, “other” 7 percent, and 18 percent undecided. A runoff, if necessary, would be held Dec. 6.

In the May 24 Republican primary, Raffensperger comfortably defeated a field that included Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice. Nguyen topped a five-candidate primary field, then defeated Dee Dawkins-Haigler in a June 21 runoff.

Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen

Speaking to a mid-September gathering of the Atlanta chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Raffensperger said that the 2022 midterm election would be conducted in a fair and open fashion and that the results would be reliable. He defended changes made to the state’s election rules and procedures by the Republican-controlled General Assembly following the 2020 election.

During an Oct. 18 debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club, Raffensperger said: “I’ve had to stand up to incredible pressure. “I’m standing up for you, the voter. I’m standing up for the Constitution, and I’m standing up for the rule of law.”

Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American elected to the Georgia House, has represented state House district 89 (succeeding Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams) since January 2017. “My parents fled their country in the middle of the night on a boat in search of basic civil liberties, including the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, and the right to free and fair elections,” she said during the debate. “And right now, our basic rights are under attack, including the freedom to choose and the freedom to vote.”

Libertarian Ted Metz

Nguyen has opposed the changes made to Georgia’s voting procedures and rules in the wake of the 2020 election. “Here’s the thing about Brad Raffensperger. He wants to present himself to Georgia voters as a person who stood up against Donald Trump,” she told GPB News. “But the reality is following the law is the bare minimum and expected out of any elected official who took the oath of office.”

Other planks in her platform include supporting public education and criminal justice reform and strengthening consumer protection laws.

Metz favors eliminating Georgia’s electronic voting machines, instead advocating the use of paper ballots, and supports signature matching for absentee ballots. He also opposes the use of ballot drop boxes. During the debate, he said that the 2020 election was “so obviously corrupted.”

According to the most recent available information from the Georgia Campaign Finance System, Nguyen had received $3.2 million in contributions, spent nearly $2 million, and had nearly $1.2 million in cash available. Raffensperger had received nearly $2.8 million, spent nearly $2.4 million, and had $416,000 remaining in cash available. Metz had raised nearly $15,400 and spent just about that amount.

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