In a party where Trump’s enemies tend to end their political careers abruptly, Raffensperger’s actions are closely watched by Republicans inside and outside the state.
“The last internal poll I saw said 87 percent of Republican primary voters felt the election had been stolen,” said former Republican MP Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.). “With numbers like that, I don’t see Brad through the primaries.”
If Raffensperger isn’t Trump’s best GOP archenemy, he’s close. The Georgia Secretary of State denied Trump’s requests to change the state’s vote count and feuded with the former president over Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud. Eventually Raffensperger’s office secretly recorded Trump is trying to convince the Secretary of State to “find” votes to make him the winner – a potential Trump crime that local prosecutors are now investigating.
As a result, Trump showered him with criticism for almost a year and even called Raffensperger an “enemy of the people”.
Trump’s obsession with Raffensperger leaves no trace of fading. In July, the former president sent him a letter asking again for the 2020 election results to be decertified. Just two weeks ago, during a rally in Georgia, Trump described Raffensperger as “incompetent and strange”.
When Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) – a staunch Trump ally – announced earlier this year that he would challenge Raffensperger in the primary, Trump immediately supported him.
Trump also let Hice make brief remarks at the September rally that saw the former president also include Governor Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Attorney General Chris Carr devastated – all Republicans who rejected Trump’s calls to overturn the election results.
Duncan, who criticized Trump, decided against another term and wrote instead a book about the future of the party. Kemp and Carr, along with Raffensperger, are aiming for re-election next year, but have largely ignored the president’s attacks.
Raffensperger took a different path.
After Trump used his rally to mock Democrat Stacey Abrams – who is expected to lead her second campaign for Georgia governor refuse to formally admit her last race for office three years ago – Raffensperger commented on USA Today Comparing Trump to Abrams.
“We’re out there to set the record right. No. 1 is that President Trump did not carry the state of Georgia, “Raffensperger told POLITICO, referring to several recounts, reviews and investigations that confirmed the accuracy of the Georgia results.
Seth Bringman, an Abrams spokesman, slammed Raffensperger for comparing her 2018 loss to Trump’s, saying, “Abrams has managed to count more Georgian votes in court, with reputable lawyers making coherent arguments, and.” the courts agreed and counted these votes. It surprises us that Raffensperger equates the counting of eligible voters on the basis of facts with the rejection of the popular will on the basis of the Great Lie. “
Raffensperger’s comment, Bringman said, amounts to “attacking Stacey and forcing electoral subversion in a sad attempt to win the rebel wing’s votes in its upcoming primaries.”
Raffensperger’s frontal attack on Trump is widely viewed as a doomed strategy in a state where Trump dominates the GOP and the majority of Republicans believe the 2020 elections were stolen – a poll in January found only 45 percent of Republicans supported the Secretary of State.
This poll was conducted shortly after the Republican incumbents lost their two Senate runoffs on Jan. 5. Both senators urged Raffensperger to resign at Trump’s insistence after losing Georgia in November.
Regarding Raffensperger’s confrontational approach to Trump, Westmoreland said, “That probably won’t help in a primary. Republican voters believe the election was stolen. “But he also said many Republicans were concerned about Trump’s rally comment that Abrams” might be better than having your current governor. “
Raffensperger, while acknowledging the difficulties he will face in the future, said he had no choice but to speak up. Nor did he blame Kemp or Carr for not denouncing Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
“It is a mystery how you react to some statements [from Trump] if they are exaggerated or said derogatory, ”said Raffensperger. “If former President Stacey supported Abrams, I would think it would be shocking to most Republicans. ”
Raffensperger said he trusts voters will reward him for running a race “with integrity” and that “they understand that I will make the tough, difficult calls to stand up … because integrity is easy to do follow. It may not be fun. But the decision was easy because it was based on the law, the constitution and the truth. “
Trump is expected to return to the state before the 2022 primaries and he is sure to crush Raffensperger again. Raffensperger said he feels comfortable continuing to crack down on Trump if the situation warrants it.
“I think it’s always important to tell the truth,” he said. “I think it’s always important to do that respectfully.”