Sep 7, 2022
Trump foil Raffensperger meets rising star Nguyen in Georgia secretary of state election
Prior to 2018, “Name Georgia’s secretary of state” would have been a stumper of a trivia question.
Then came then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s successful run for governor. Kemp’s election was followed by an overhaul of the state’s voting machines, a process led by the secretary of state. Finally, the false narrative about Georgia’s 2020 presidential election being “rigged” – and the current officeholder’s staunch defense of the results – turned Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into one of the Southeast’s highest-profile elected officials.
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Recent events, most notably voting reforms enacted by the Georgia General Assembly following the 2020 election, have set up a fierce campaign between Raffensperger and two challengers this fall. Democrat Bee Nguyen, a Georgia House member, and Libertarian Ted Metz, a former candidate for Georgia governor, have centered their runs on Georgia’s evolving election laws and processes and the secretary of state’s role in shaping how Georgians vote.
What is the secretary of state’s role?
The secretary of state is Georgia’s chief elections official and oversees all election activity, to include voter registration. The officeholder certifies election results and the qualifications of candidates and also prepares ballots and election forms and materials.
Additionally, the secretary’s office manages Georgia’s business-related records. The officeholder tracks corporate findings, grants professional licenses for professions such as engineering and nursing and oversees the state’s securities market.
What happened in the primaries?
Raffensperger, the Republican incumbent, pulled Election Day’s biggest stunner, winning 52% of the vote to defeat US Congressman Jody Hice and two others. Hice was the candidate endorsed by former President Trump, who campaigned against Raffensperger in retaliation for Raffensperger’s refusal to back his election fraud claims.
Nguyen needed a runoff to capture the Democratic nomination. She received 44% of the vote in a five-way race in the May 24 primary, setting up the runoff with Dee Dawkins-Heigler a month later. Bolstered by the endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Nguyen coasted to the head-to-head victory with 77% of the vote.
What do you need to know about Brad Raffensperger?
Raffensperger is an engineer by profession and the owner of a specialty contracting and engineering design firm. He entered politics in 2012, winning a seat on the Johns Creek City Council. He stepped down from the municipal post in 2014 to run for the Georgia House. He won that race. In 2018, he won the Georgia secretary of state election, defeating former US Congressman John Barrow in a runoff.
Raffensperger is campaigning on his record, specifically his defense of Georgia’s election integrity against Trump’s claims and his support for voter reform legislation, known broadly as Senate Bill 202, enacted in the wake of the controversy. Billing himself as a “real conservative” with “real solutions,” Raffensperger has pushed for additional voting reforms, including a constitutional amendment prohibiting non-citizens from casting ballots, which is already illegal.
What do you need to know about Bee Nguyen?
Nguyen is the founder of a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring and empowering teen girls. She first ran for elected office in 2017, winning the Georgia House seat formerly held by Abrams. She is the first Vietnamese-American to hold a Georgia House seat and served two terms. If the elected secretary of state, she would be the first Asian-American to hold statewide political office in Georgia.
Nguyen’s campaign for secretary of state is grounded in “access, equity, efficiency,” references to the voting reforms enacted during Raffensperger’s tenure that some Georgians argue fosters voter suppression. Nguyen was among the lawmakers to challenge the signature match absentee ballot verification process, which was removed following the 2020 election. She was also a vocal defender of Georgia’s election integrity in the face of Trump’s fraud claims.
What do you need to know about Ted Metz?
Metz is a semi-retired insurance agent with a background in scientific research. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for Georgia governor in 2018 and gained name recognition for his performance in an televised debate against Kemp and Abrams.
Metz supports voter ID, absentee signature matching, hand-marked paper ballots, and public ballot inspections among other things, according to his website. He opposes electronic voting systems, ballot drop boxes, ballot harvesting and ballot stuffing.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: GA secretary of state race: Candidates Raffensperger, Nguyen clash