Former President Donald J. Trump on Monday took purpose at a Georgia official he considers one of his greatest 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 have mentioned the outcomes had been truthful and correct, dismissing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him via widespread fraud.
In a assertion issued shortly after Mr. Hice introduced his candidacy for the place on Monday, Mr. Trump praised him as “one of our most outstanding congressmen,” and alluded to his personal baseless claims of voter fraud, which he has mentioned disadvantaged him of victory within the state. “Unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out front with integrity,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “Jody will stop 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.
Should Mr. Hice beat Mr. Raffensperger within the Republican main, his nomination might 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 House impeachment of Mr. Trump as “misguided” and geared toward “scoring cheap political points.” In the weeks after the November election, he supported Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud, together with a challenge before the Supreme Court that sought to overturn the leads to states Mr. Trump misplaced.
Mr. Hice additionally served within the House Freedom Caucus with former Representative Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s fourth and final chief of employees. Mr. Meadows was integral in Mr. Trump’s efforts to recruit Mr. Hice, two Republicans briefed on the discussions mentioned.
As he seeks to retain management of the Republican Party, Mr. Trump is decided to stay a kingmaker for down-ballot elections, whereas looking for retribution towards these he perceives as having betrayed him.
So far, he has endorsed just one different candidate operating towards somebody he feels personally aggrieved by: Max Miller, a former White House aide, who’s difficult Representative Anthony Gonzalez, a Republican representing Ohio’s Sixth Congressional District. Mr. Gonzalez was one of 10 House members who voted for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
Mr. Hice’s problem — towards a Trump nemesis in a essential swing state — might be a higher-profile check of Mr. Trump’s political clout amongst Republicans.
The transfer to again Mr. Hice towards the sitting secretary of state can also be extraordinary on condition 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 beneath 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, during which Mr. Trump pushed baseless claims of widespread election irregularities and requested the secretary of state to “find” sufficient votes to reverse the win for Mr. Biden.
“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state,” Mr. Trump mentioned throughout the name.
Mr. Raffensperger repeatedly instructed him his information was flawed. “We have to stand by our numbers,” he mentioned. “We believe our numbers are right.”
Mr. Trump, when he had a Twitter feed, repeatedly attacked Mr. Raffensperger for not acceding to his calls for.
In a assertion on Monday afternoon, Mr. Raffensperger was scathing about his future opponent. “Few have done more to cynically undermine faith in our election than Jody Hice,” he mentioned, including, “Georgia Republicans seeking a candidate who’s accomplished nothing now have one.”
Richard Fausset contributed reporting.