U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who has spread false conspiracy theories about Georgia’s elections in 2020, announced Monday that he’s running for secretary of state.
Hice is one of two candidates challenging incumbent Brad Raffensperger in the 2022 Republican primary. Raffensperger angered many Trump supporters when he refused to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in Georgia and defended the vote-counting process against disproven allegations of fraud.
Hice, on the other hand, led Georgia Republicans’ fight against certifying Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes for Biden, even after a mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, interrupting the process while they ransacked offices and threated violence against Vice President Mike Pence and other elected officials. A recent report from a Democratic congresswoman cited social media posts from Hice that egged on the insurrectionists, and Athens Democrats called on him to resign.
In announcing his candidacy, Hice repeated those false claims.
Free and fair elections are the foundation of our country. What Brad Raffensperger did was create cracks in the integrity of our elections, which I wholeheartedly believe individuals took advantage of in 2020. 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. If elected, I will instill confidence in our election process by upholding the Georgia Constitution, enforcing meaningful reform and aggressively pursuing those who commit voter fraud.
Every Georgian, in fact every American, has the right to be outraged by the actions and, simultaneously, the inaction of our Secretary of State. Our state deserves a leader who steers clear of scandals and focuses on the incredibly important duties of the office. If elected, my top priority will be ensuring every Georgian’s legally cast ballot is counted in future elections. I am excited about our campaign and I know together we can renew integrity!
The other candidate challenging Raffensperger, former Alpharetta mayor David Belle Isle, sounded a similar note in his campaign announcement Monday. Belle Isle finished second to Raffensperger in the 2018 Republican primary.
A Democratic candidate has yet to emerge. Former Athens congressman John Barrow sought the seat in 2018.
Hice’s announcement is likely to create a free-for-all among Republicans seeking his seat in the heavily conservative 10th District, which includes most of Athens and runs south through deep-red counties to the Milledgeville area.
One of them may be his predecessor, Paul Broun, who hinted in an endorsement of Hice that he might be looking to get his old seat back. He is “strongly considering” a run, he said in a news release.
Broun, who was first elected in 2007, left his seat to run for Senate in 2014 but lost to David Perdue. Since then, he’s run twice in the 9th District north of Athens, losing in the primary to former congressman Doug Collins and again to current Rep. Andrew Clyde.
Another likely candidate, according to the AJC‘s Greg Bluestein, is state Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens). If Gaines jumps in, that would open up his House District 117 seat, which Democrats briefly flipped in a 2017 special election.
Mike Collins, a trucking company executive and son of former Georgia congressman Mac Collins, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate. Collins was the runner-up to Hice in 2014.
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