John Eaves Announces Bid for Secretary of State

John Eaves Announces Bid for Secretary of State

The Temple member eyes what once was a relatively low-profile, yet important, job, until it was thrust into the national spotlight by the 2020 elections.

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

John Eaves is running for Georgia secretary of state.
John Eaves is running for Georgia secretary of state.

Former Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chair John Eaves announced today that he will seek the Democratic nomination for secretary of state in the 2022 election.

Eaves, 59, is a member of The Temple and the African American grandson of a Jamaican immigrant who came to the United States in the early 20th century and converted to Judaism.

“This is a natural for me,” Eaves told the AJT. “Voting is sacred to me and I don’t like what’s happening, not only in the state of Georgia, in terms of voting access and restrictions, but around the country.”

John Eaves is running for Georgia secretary of state.

Eaves served as the Fulton County board chair from 2007 to 2017, when he resigned to launch an ultimately unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Atlanta. He also sought the Democratic nomination to Congress from the 7th District in 2020, losing in a crowded primary field to current Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.

Eaves is the second announced Democratic candidate, following state Rep. Bee Nguyen, who represents the 89th District in the state House.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican elected in 2018, has not formally announced a re-election bid, but has been quoted as saying that is his intention. Republican congressman Jody Hice, who represents the 10th District, has announced that he will seek the Republican nomination and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle also has announced that he will enter the race.

The role of Georgia’s secretary of state in overseeing elections wound up in the national spotlight in 2020, when Raffensperger resisted pressure to change results of the contest between Republican incumbent Trump and Democratic former vice president Joe Biden.

John Eaves announced his candidacy for secretary of state Wednesday.

Eaves said of Raffensperger: “I like him. He stood on grounds of integrity, but of course, he had to follow the law. I think he and his team did what was expected. You have to commend him given the pressure. He’s also consistent with other secretaries of state, but he got the pressure from the big cheese,” referring to the Jan. 2, hourlong telephone call in which Trump told Raffensperger, “I just want to find 11,780 votes” to overturn Biden’s win in Georgia.

Otherwise, secretary of state “is a low-profile position, but it’s incredibly important in terms of economic development, incorporation of businesses, licensing of professionals, the securities industry, a whole other side of that office that people don’t think about,” Eaves said.

Eaves said that he is “someone who understands the importance of voting in general and certainly the Jewish community sees the value of voting, which is consistent with a lot of teachings that we have in terms of fairness and equality.”

One focus of his campaign will be “reimagining voting in the 21st century,” Eaves said. Noting that he had just deposited a check in his bank account using his phone, he said, “Voting should be like that. If we can trust our money to be deposited in a bank and there’s a certification, why can’t we think of voting that way.”

About Georgia’s controversial new voting law — one part of which removed the secretary of state as chair of the state elections board — Eaves said, “It was unnecessary. It was restrictive. The intent and spirit of it is restrictive. It was targeted toward people of color.”

He continued, “It’s a national narrative. We’re the epicenter of it. We’re a microcosm of the whole. It’s a pattern. It’s a playbook that’s being executed by a conservative group of folks who don’t want a more inclusive approach.”

Eaves is looking forward to running a statewide campaign. “I’m a coalition builder. I feel very strongly that I have crossover appeal.” He added that he can attract voters in southern rural Georgia, as well as garner support across racial, ethnic and religious lines.

Eaves has been a lecturer in political science at Spelman College and recently hosted an interview program on the AIB Network.

In a first-person article for the AJT in February 2017, Eaves wrote: “My grandfather, Cecil Reginald Eaves, converted to Judaism after immigrating to America from Jamaica in 1913. He passed his faith to my father, John Henry Eaves Sr., who in turn passed it on to me.

“I am part of a racial group that has experienced oppression and discrimination but through it all persevered. I am also part of a religious lineage that has equally experienced oppression and discrimination but through it all persevered,” Eaves wrote.

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