Trump Endorses a Loyalist, Jody Hice, for Georgia Secretary of State

Former President Donald J. Trump on Monday took purpose at a Georgia official he considers one among his largest enemies: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who refused Mr. Trump’s stress to overturn the state’s election outcomes final 12 months.

By endorsing Jody Hice, a Republican congressman, in his bid to unseat Mr. Raffensperger, the previous president made his most outstanding effort but to attempt to punish elected officers who he believes have crossed him. Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, is among the many high targets for Mr. Trump, together with the state’s governor, Brian Kemp.

Mr. Raffensperger and different Georgia election officers licensed President Biden’s victory after conducting a number of recounts. They’ve stated the outcomes have been truthful and correct, dismissing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him by means of widespread fraud.

In an announcement issued shortly after Mr. Hice introduced his candidacy for the place on Monday, Mr. Trump praised him as “one among our most excellent congressmen,” and alluded to his personal baseless claims of voter fraud, which he has stated disadvantaged him of victory within the state. “In contrast to the present Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out entrance with integrity,” Mr. Trump stated. “Jody will cease the Fraud and get honesty into our Elections!”

The race in Georgia for secretary of state — till the 2020 election a comparatively low-profile job throughout the nation — carries outsize implications within the battleground state, with Republicans there working to roll again voting rights and Democrats combating these efforts.

Ought to Mr. Hice beat Mr. Raffensperger within the Republican main, his nomination may energize Democrats who’re alarmed by the prospect of elections within the state being run by a Trump loyalist.

Mr. Hice, who represents Georgia’s tenth Congressional District, stretching south and east from Atlanta, in January condemned the second Home impeachment of Mr. Trump as “misguided” and geared toward “scoring low cost political factors.” Within the weeks after the November election, he supported Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud, together with a problem earlier than the Supreme Court docket that sought to overturn the leads to states Mr. Trump misplaced.

Mr. Hice additionally served within the Home Freedom Caucus with former Consultant Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s fourth and final chief of workers. Mr. Meadows was integral in Mr. Trump’s efforts to recruit Mr. Hice, two Republicans briefed on the discussions stated.

As he seeks to retain management of the Republican Occasion, Mr. Trump is set to stay a kingmaker for down-ballot elections, whereas searching for retribution towards these he perceives as having betrayed him.

To date, he has endorsed just one different candidate operating towards somebody he feels personally aggrieved by: Max Miller, a former White Home aide, who’s difficult Consultant Anthony Gonzalez, a Republican representing Ohio’s Sixth Congressional District. Mr. Gonzalez was one among 10 Home members who voted for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Mr. Hice’s problem — towards a Trump nemesis in a vital swing state — might be a higher-profile take a look at of Mr. Trump’s political clout amongst Republicans.

The transfer to again Mr. Hice towards the sitting secretary of state can also be extraordinary provided that Mr. Raffensperger has confirmed his workplace is investigating Mr. Trump’s makes an attempt to reverse the election outcomes, together with a cellphone name the previous president made to him. Mr. Trump can also be underneath investigation by Fulton County prosecutors into whether or not he and others tried to improperly affect the election.

Mr. Raffensperger was on the receiving finish of a now-infamous name in early January, by which Mr. Trump pushed baseless claims of widespread election irregularities and requested the secretary of state to “discover” sufficient votes to reverse the win for Mr. Biden.

“All I wish to do is that this: I simply wish to discover 11,780 votes, which is yet another than we now have, as a result of we received the state,” Mr. Trump stated in the course of the name.

Mr. Raffensperger repeatedly instructed him his knowledge was mistaken. “Now we have to face by our numbers,” he stated. “We imagine our numbers are proper.”

Mr. Trump, when he had a Twitter feed, repeatedly attacked Mr. Raffensperger for not acceding to his calls for.

In an announcement on Monday afternoon, Mr. Raffensperger was scathing about his future opponent. “Few have completed extra to cynically undermine religion in our election than Jody Hice,” he stated, including, “Georgia Republicans searching for a candidate who’s achieved nothing now have one.”

Richard Fausset contributed reporting.

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