ATLANTA — Former President Donald Trump endorsed candidates running against Georgia Republican incumbents for governor, attorney general, secretary of state and even insurance commissioner.
Those Trump-backed challengers all lost.
The race for Georgia’s Secretary of State was maybe the biggest surprise of the night Tuesday, with Brad Raffenperger winning outright.
A supporter of the Secretary of State told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray on Tuesday night that he went around during the legislative session asking Republican lawmakers if they thought his candidate could win the primary. Not a single one of them said yes.
Raffensperger was Trump’s No. 1 target. Political pundits said a re-election loss was almost a foregone conclusion. And other Georgia Republicans steered clear of Raffensperger.
“I kind of knew that a lot of people had that mindset. But I didn’t think they were right. In my heart of hearts. I thought there are a lot of people looking for someone who will follow the law and follow the constitution,” Raffensperger told Gray on Wednesday.
It was the now notorious phone call in January 2021 -- still the subject of a criminal investigation in Fulton County – where Trump pressured Raffensperger to find votes that turned him into one of his party leader’s top enemies.
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“He was close to political pariah status within the GOP,” Channel 2 political analyst Bill Crane said.
Crane said Gov. Brian Kemp’s coattails and some Democratic crossover voters helped.
But along with easy wins by Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr against Trump-endorsed candidates, the majority of Georgia GOP voters seem ready to move past false claims of a stolen election.
“I definitely think it was a bunch of GOP voters and independents, people that participated in this primary by a million votes, saying stop looking backwards, the world is not in the rear view,” Crane said.
“I believe that voters embraced the truth. People have been told so many things and they are looking for someone who is a straight shooter. But also says it with some grace. So that’s what I did for the last year and a half,” Raffensperger said. “The truth matters and integrity counts.”
While many were expecting a Republican runoff, it is on the Democratic side where no candidate broke 50% Tuesday night.
Bee Nguyen will now face off against Dee Dawkins-Haigler for the Democratic ticket in this race.
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