Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger hopes to keep his position next year, but his refusal to help former President Donald Trump claim an illegitimate victory in 2020 may have doomed him. (Photo: Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Getty/AP) Brad Raffensperger believes Republicans can win elections by promoting an “uplifting vision for the country.” The Georgia secretary of state is a national name because he pushed back on former President Donald Trump ’s lies about the 2020 election, and refused Trump’s repeated attempts to “find” votes to overturn the results.
Brad Raffensperger is also politically doomed.
He is seeking reelection in Georgia, where a crowded field of primary candidates have lined up to dethrone a man now considered public enemy No. 1 by adherents of the MAGA movement. Almost nobody thinks he can win.
“He’s dead in the water,” Jay Williams, a Georgia GOP consultant, told HuffPost.
“There is no way Brad Raffensperger can win the primary,” said Leo Smith, another longtime Republican strategist in the state.
Raffensperger’s pariah status is a blinking alert that the Republican Party has so completely morphed into a right-wing authoritarian political project that it cannot tolerate the presence of an elections official who defends the legitimacy of American elections. Republicans and Democrats in Georgia are already proceeding as though Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) ― who twice voted to contest the results of the 2020 election, referred to the Jan. 6 rally that prefaced the Capitol insurrection as a “1776 moment,” and unsurprisingly earned Trump’s endorsement ― will be the GOP nominee for Georgia’s secretary of state next year.
Raffensperger has amassed no major endorsements and has struggled to win even minimal support in straw polls at Republican events across Georgia, an unprecedented fall for an incumbent in a secretary of state race. Meanwhile, the state legislature, controlled by his own party, stripped him of his seat on the state election board for the 2022 election purely because he certified Trump’s loss.
In an interview with HuffPost in conjunction with the release of his book this week, Raffensperger expressed longing for his vision of the Republican Party of the past, describing his admiration for former presidents Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln. He said he plans to “continue to just calmly and respectfully state what the facts are” about the 2020 election, and emphasized the need to listen to the other side of the aisle.