ATLANTA (CN) — Former President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed Republican Congressman Jody Hice in his bid to unseat Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow GOP official who faced Trump’s wrath when he refused to “find” enough votes to overturn the election.
Hice, a Tea Party favorite, repeatedly promoted Trump’s lies of widespread election fraud in the Georgia presidential race and is the first major challenger to Raffensperger since the secretary of state angered the former president by certifying President Joe Biden’s victory in the Peach State.
In his announcement, the congressman claimed that Raffensperger created “cracks in the integrity of our elections, which I wholeheartedly believe individuals took advantage of in 2020.”
Hice said he wants to “instill confidence in our election process by upholding the Georgia Constitution, enforcing meaningful reform and aggressively pursuing those who commit voter fraud.”
There has been no evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, which was upheld by three separate ballot counts.
In a statement Monday, Trump called the congressman a “steadfast fighter for conservative Georgia values” and a “staunch ally of the America First agenda.”
“Unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out front with integrity. I have 100% confidence in Jody to fight for Free, Fair and Secure elections in Georgia, in line with our beloved U.S. Constitution. Jody will stop the Fraud and get honesty into our Elections!” Trump said.
A stringent critic of Raffensperger, Hice raised an objection to Georgia’s Electoral College votes alongside other members of the state's congressional delegation immediately following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. His attempt to block Georgia’s votes failed when then-U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler refused to endorse the challenge.
Hice has remained critical of Georgia’s electoral processes. In the statement announcing his candidacy, the congressman indicated his support for recent state legislation that threatens to limit access to the ballot box.
“Though I am encouraged to see the General Assembly taking it upon themselves to address some of the glaring issues in our elections, Georgia deserves a Secretary of State who will own the responsibilities of the office,” he said.
Hice also joined Loeffler and then-U.S. Senator David Perdue in a legal challenge filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out Georgia’s election results. The lawsuit was eventually tossed out of court.
Trump’s endorsement of Hice is the latest in a line of rebukes to Georgia’s leadership, whom he blames for his electoral defeat.
The former president has repeatedly encouraged former Congressman Doug Collins to challenge Republican Governor Brian Kemp in the primary and urged NFL star Hershel Walker to run for the U.S. Senate in 2022.
During a Jan. 4 rally in Georgia on the eve of two Senate runoffs that Democrats ultimately won to secure control of the chamber, Trump promised to return.
“I’ll be here in a year in a half campaigning against your governor and your crazy secretary of state,” he said.
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