Former President Donald Trump has endorsed a challenger to take on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican who has steadfastly insisted his state conducted a clean and fair general election despite Trump's insistence that the election was stolen from him.
What are the details?
Trump issued a statement endorsing Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) in his bid to unseat Raffensperger, writing that Hice "has been a steadfast fighter for conservative Georgia values and is a staunch ally of the America First agenda."
"Unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State," the former president's statement read, "Jody leads out front with integrity."
As @JasonMillerinDC teased yesterday, here is former President Trump’s endorsement of @JodyHice for Georgia Secreta… https://t.co/3PNS7yrTlK— Mike Emanuel 🇺🇸 (@Mike Emanuel 🇺🇸) 1616421272.0
Hice came out swinging against Raffensperger in a statement announcing his candidacy Monday, saying that "[w]hat Brad Raffensperger did was create cracks in the integrity of our elections, which I wholeheartedly believe individuals took advantage of in 2020."
He added, "Every Georgian, in fact every American, has the right to be outraged by the actions and, simultaneously, the inaction of our Secretary of State."
Raffensperger hit back in a statement to ABC News, saying in reaction to Hice's challenge:
"Few have done more to cynically undermine faith in our election than Jody Hice. We saw in January what Georgia voters will do to candidates who use that rhetoric. His recklessness is matched by his fecklessness as a congressman. Georgia Republicans seeking a candidate who's accomplished nothing, now have one."
Raffensperger was referring to the Georgia Senate runoffs on Jan. 5, where two Republican incumbents lost to Democratic challengers as pro-Trump attorneys Lin Wood and Sidney Powell urged conservatives to boycott the election. The outcome put the U.S. Senate in Democratic control.
NBC News reported:
Hice objected to Georgia's electoral vote being counted on Jan. 6, even after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, delaying the vote count. In a since-deleted Instagram post on the morning of Jan. 6, Hice wrote, "This is our 1776 moment."
A spokeswoman for Hice told the Journal-Constitution the next day that the post was "our way of highlighting the electoral objection," and they removed it "when we realized it could be misconstrued as supporting those acting violently yesterday and storming the Capitol."
What's the background?
Raffensperger and other Georgia Republican officials — including Gov. Brian Kemp — fell under attack from Trump after the secretary of state "rejected pressure from Mr. Trump to overturn the state's results and certified President [Joe] Biden as the winner of the presidential race after a hand recount," CBS News reported.
The feud between Trump and Raffensperger was ratcheted up to a new level after a leaked recording of a Jan. 2 phone call between the two was released by The Washington Post. During the conversation, Trump urged the secretary of state "to find 11,780 votes, which is more than we have. Because we won the state."
Raffensperger's office revealed last month that it had launched an investigation into the call, which critics of the former president say shows he was illegally trying to change the results of the election.
Trump disputes that claim, and has repeatedly accused Raffensperger of circumventing the state legislature by signing a consent decree with Democratic groups regarding signature matching in the state.
The former president says the decree "should be deemed invalid, and the election result changed."
Gabriel Sterling, another Republican and Raffensperger's voting systems implementation manager, says all the consent decree did was "send out an 'official election bulletin,' telling people, 'hey follow our rules and how we already do a signature match.'"
According to WXIA-TV, Sterling argues "the only substantive change in policy — a policy subject to the discretion of the Secretary of State's Office — was how people should be given notice if their ballot was rejected."