Former President Donald Trump endorsed an ardently pro-Trump primary challenger to take on Georgia's Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who refused to carry out Trump's demand in January to magically find nearly 12,000 votes to swing the state's 2020 election results in his favor.
Trump's endorsement of Rep. Jody Hice, who sought to overturn the 2020 election results and is a staunch Trump loyalist, came shortly after Hice announced Sunday that he would run against Raffensperger in the 2022 Republican primary.
"Wow, just heard the good news. One of our most outstanding Congressmen, Jody Hice, has announced he is running for Secretary of State in the Great State of Georgia," reads a statement from Trump via his "Save America" PAC, obtained by Salon.
"Unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out front with integrity," the twice-impeached former president added. "I have 100% confidence in Jody to fight for Free, Fair, and Secure Elections in Georgia, in line with our beloved U.S. Constitution. Jody will stop the Fraud and get honesty into our Elections!"
The battle lines between Trump and Raffensperger, highlighted further by Trump's endorsement of Hice, run deep after the secretary of state's resistance to the baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud promoted by the former president ever since the November election. One of Trump's most notorious voter fraud claims was that Georgia's 16 electoral college votes had been stolen from him.
Raffensperger and Trump's rift intensified further in January when the then-president finally got Raffensperger on the phone — after reportedly placing numerous calls to his office — and demanded he "find" upwards of 11,000 votes to flip the election in his favor.
"I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state," Trump told Raffensperger on the call, first reported by The Washington Post. "We won the election, and it's not fair to take it away from us like this. And it's going to be costly in many ways. And I think you have to say that you're going to reexamine it," he added.
Raffensperger and Hice are both Republicans, but have opposing views when it comes to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which immediately followed Trump's speech at a rally nearby
Before the riot began, Hice posted a picture to Instagram with a caption that read: "This is our 1776 moment." On the contrary, Raffensperger has consistently denounced the Jan. 6 attack, calling it an "affront to the people that founded this nation."
"It was surreal. We've never seen anything like that in 150 years, maybe even longer, probably 200 years. It was really an affront to the people that founded this nation," Raffensperger told CBS' "60 Minutes" on Jan. 10. "People need to go back and read their history books. You know, we had some great founders. I know they weren't perfect men, but they were great people. They were some of the most learned people we had in our society. And that's the high ideal that we all should kind of elevate ourselves to, to be noble people of high character, and patriotic, and love our country."