Oct 7, 2022 - News

Brad Raffensperger could be the top Georgia Republican in November

Photo illustration of Bee Nguyen tinted blue and Brad Raffensperger tinted red separated by a white halftone divider.

Photo illustration: Maura Losch/Axios. Photos: Derek White/Getty Images and Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

After his high-profile refusal to overturn the 2020 election, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger could be the top Republican on Georgia's November ballot.

  • Multiple independent public polls have shown Raffensperger outperforming his fellow Republicans in November. A September AJC poll had him winning by nearly 20 points.

Catch up quick: Most Georgia Republicans wrote off Raffensperger's political future after he attracted some of the worst attacks from former president Donald Trump.

Threat level: Raffensperger's Democratic opponent, state Rep. Bee Nguyen, isn't deterred. She's aggressively raising money and leveraging outside support — including from the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State — to hammer Raffensperger as an anti-abortion rights candidate.

  • Of note: Raffensperger told Axios he only supports access to abortion in the case of a situation threatening the life of the mother. But he said his position isn’t “germane” to his role.

Context: Nguyen argues that because the secretary of state oversees more than 40 professional licensing boards, including for nurses, Raffensperger's abortion stance might into play should nurses face any prosecution — or jeopardy to their licenses — following the state's 6-week abortion ban.

The other side: Raffensperger told Axios Nguyen is "just grasping at straws." He points out that the governor appoints the members of the board, which makes the actual licensing decisions.

  • The secretary of state hires the executive director and the office offers administrative support, staffs board meetings and helps process complaints and investigations.

Yes, and: Raffensperger has launched his own attack ad against Nguyen, accusing her of "pushing stolen election claims" in the wake of Stacey Abrams' 2018 loss.

What they're saying: "As I've been along the campaign trail, I've actually had Democrats pull me aside and said, 'Oh, my gosh, I thought I was voting for this guy until I met you and I heard from you or until I heard about his record,'" Nguyen told Axios.

  • "We've been running on the truth for two years," Raffensperger said. "And I've just been out there talking to people and that resonates. People are just looking for someone that'll shoot straight, but do it with some grace."
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