Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Republican official who famously rebuffed former President Donald J. Trump’s requests to “find” enough votes to assist him overturn the 2020 election, defeated a Republican primary challenge on Tuesday.
Mr. Raffensperger, who serves as Georgia’s top elections official as secretary of state, won his G.O.P. primary against Representative Jody Hice, a Republican congressman who voted to overturn the 2020 election and who was backed by Mr. Trump.
The Associated Press called the victory for Mr. Raffensperger, who was capable of win back the trust of Republican voters in Georgia by promoting himself as a champion of “election integrity” and rebutting falsehoods made by Mr. Trump and his allies concerning the 2020 election. His victory amounted to a repudiation of Mr. Trump’s attempts to weaponize 2020 election falsehoods into political success in 2022.
Mr. Raffensperger didn’t mention Mr. Trump by name in his victory remarks on Tuesday night, but he made a transparent reference to him. “Not buckling under the pressure is what the people want,” Mr. Raffensperger said.
Though Mr. Raffensperger was a hero to many Democrats for his refusal to overturn the 2020 election, he’ll still face stiff opposition in the overall election in November. Democrats have placed a premium on secretary of state races across the country as a way of combating what they view as a wave of recent restrictive voting laws.
The competition in Georgia between Mr. Raffensperger and Mr. Hice elevated the once-sleepy down-ballot race right into a hyperpartisan dogfight, helping to bring national attention to races for secretary of state across the country. After Mr. Hice earned Mr. Trump’s backing, a number of candidates who’ve publicly questioned or disputed the outcomes of the 2020 election in several states announced their candidacy for secretary of state, worrying Democrats, election experts and a few Republicans.
After the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Raffensperger became perhaps essentially the most famous secretary of state within the country, as a leaked audio call showed him resisting Mr. Trump’s pressure. And though he lamented the previous president’s loss publicly, Mr. Raffensperger repeatedly asserted that Georgia’s elections had been free and fair.
This immediately put him within the cross hairs of Mr. Trump, who has focused his political capital on ousting Republicans who either went against his whims after the 2020 election or voted for his impeachment after the riot on the Capitol.
Mr. Trump quickly endorsed Mr. Hice, the primary secretary of state candidate to earn his endorsement, in March of last 12 months. “Jody has been a steadfast fighter for conservative Georgia values and is a staunch ally of the America First agenda,” Mr. Trump said. “Unlike the present Georgia secretary of state, Jody leads out front with integrity.”
As he sought to fend off Mr. Hice’s challenge, Mr. Raffensperger shifted to the best. He was some of the vocal proponents of the state’s recent voting law, which added quite a few recent regulations and restrictions to casting ballots, though the law also stripped Mr. Raffensperger of a few of his powers as secretary of state.
Understand the 2022 Midterm Elections
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Why are these midterms so essential? This 12 months’s races could tip the balance of power in Congress to Republicans, hobbling President Biden’s agenda for the second half of his term. They may also test former President Donald J. Trump’s role as a G.O.P. kingmaker. Here’s what to know:
What are the midterm elections? Midterms happen two years after a presidential election, on the midpoint of a presidential term — hence the name. This 12 months, quite a lot of seats are up for grabs, including all 435 House seats, 35 of the 100 Senate seats and 36 of fifty governorships.
What do the midterms mean for Biden? With slim majorities in Congress, Democrats have struggled to pass Mr. Biden’s agenda. Republican control of the House or Senate would make the president’s legislative goals a near-impossibility.
What are the races to look at? Only a handful of seats will determine if Democrats maintain control of the House over Republicans, and a single state could shift power within the 50-50 Senate. Listed below are 10 races to look at within the House and Senate, in addition to several key governor’s contests.
When are the important thing races going down? The first gauntlet is already underway. Closely watched races in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia can be held in May, with more going down through the summer. Primaries run until September before the overall election on Nov. 8.
Go deeper. What’s redistricting and the way does it affect the midterm elections? How does polling work? How do you register to vote? We’ve got more answers to your pressing midterm questions here.
Mr. Raffensperger dismissed his opponent’s campaign as mere political opportunism.
“I actually have record to run on — he’s got nothing to run on because he’s done nothing,” Mr. Raffensperger said in an interview. “The truth is, after we had the Republican House, Republican Senate and a president that was Republican, he didn’t introduce a single piece of election reform laws and neither did any of his other fellow members.”
Mr. Hice at times campaigned with the vigor of a presidential candidate as he crisscrossed the state in a chartered jet. He often criticized Mr. Raffensperger for mailing ballot applications to what he described as every voter within the state throughout the 2020 election. Mr. Raffensperger mailed ballot applications to all energetic voters, not every voter, and it was throughout the primary, not the overall election.
“I voted against Kevin McCarthy to be our leader, and I used to be punished for doing so,” Mr. Hice said at an event last week, referring to his removal from the House Armed Services Committee. “But in doing so I stood as much as leadership, unlike Brad Raffensperger.”
But after a harshly fought, yearlong primary campaign, each candidates spent the ultimate days before Tuesday largely out of the general public eye.
Mr. Raffensperger retreated from the campaign trail to oversee the first elections in his capability as secretary of state. Mr. Hice met mostly with local Republican groups that prohibited media access.
Maya King and Reid J. Epstein contributed reporting.