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Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger beats Trump-backed primary challenge, AP says

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (pictured) has beaten Rep. Jody Hice in the Republican primary for Georgia secretary of state.
Alyssa Pointer for NPR
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (pictured) has beaten Rep. Jody Hice in the Republican primary for Georgia secretary of state.

Updated May 25, 2022 at 1:19 AM ET

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who famously refused former President Donald Trump's entreaties to "find" enough votes to overturn his loss in the state in the 2020 presidential election, has handily defeated a Trump-backed challenger, according to a race call by The Associated Press.

The Republican Raffensperger topped U.S. Rep. Jody Hice and two other opponents in a GOP primary that many political observers thought would head to a runoff, with no candidate reaching the 50% threshold to win outright.

But at the time of the AP's race call, Raffensperger had edged above that mark, with about 52% of the vote, notching a repudiation of Trump's efforts to boost Hice.

Primaries for secretary of state are often sleepy campaigns. But this Georgia contest took on outsized political significance after Raffensperger denied Trump's request to overturn the election.

The former president now faces a criminal probe in Georgia for those efforts.

Hice, who garnered Trump's endorsement, objected to the 2020 election results at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, just hours after it had been stormed by a violent pro-Trump mob. And he pushed baseless claims about widespread voter fraud throughout the secretary of state's campaign.

Raffensperger has defended his actions in the wake of the 2020 election, saying his office investigated all allegations of wrongdoing. And while praising Georgia's controversial 2021 election law that added new restrictions to the voting process, he's also called for a constitutional amendment to bar noncitizens from voting — something that's already banned under state law.

Hice was one of many candidates who deny the results of the 2020 presidential election and have sought to oversee voting in their states — a trend that has alarmed election experts and raised the salience of these contests.

Trump has endorsed three of those secretary of state candidates who falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen, including Hice and Kristina Karamo, who recently got the backing of Michigan Republicans.

Raffensperger's Democratic opponent is not yet known. State Rep. Bee Nguyen appears headed for a runoff with another candidate after securing a clear plurality of the vote.

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Ben Swasey is an editor on the Washington Desk who mostly covers politics and voting.