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2 Democrats will advance to second round in critical race for top Georgia election post


The Democratic primary in the Georgia Secretary of State race is heading for a runoff that will put together a candidate to potentially make history in the November general election, regardless of who ultimately wins the June 21 nomination. .

State Rep. Bee Nguyen finished top of votes in Tuesday’s primary, winning about 44% of the votes cast in the contest. But that left Nguyen, who led the field in fundraising and endorsements, falling short of the majority threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Nguyen’s opponent in the head-to-head who will determine the Democratic nominee has yet to be decided: As of Wednesday morning, former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler was in second place with 18.7% of the vote. vote, while Michael Owens, a former chairman of the Cobb County Democratic Party, was third, with 16.5%. Former Milledgeville, Georgia mayor Floyd Griffin is fourth with 11%.

Nguyen, who rose to national prominence after challenging Republican conspiracy theories about voter fraud and efforts to undermine Democratic victories in the 2020 election, would become the first Asian American female candidate elected to a presidential position. statewide in Georgia’s history if it won the runoff and general elections in November. .

Dawkins-Haigler, Owens or Griffin would become the first black secretary of state in Georgia history if one of them prevails in the second round and again in November.

Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen led all candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic secretary of state primary, but failed to win the majority of votes required to avoid a runoff.

Derek White via Getty Images

The Democratic contest came in the face of a heated Republican primary that pitted incumbent Brad Raffensperger, who thwarted former President Donald Trump’s efforts to steal the 2020 election, against Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) , who voted twice to challenge the 2020 Congressional election results.

The GOP primary even drew votes from thousands of Georgians who had voted in the Democratic primaries in previous years, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as some Democratic voters sought to derail Hice and other candidates who had received the Trump’s endorsement.

Raffensperger won Tuesday night’s Republican primary, according to projections, easily beating Hice and gaining enough votes to avoid a runoff.

But Democrats in Georgia and elsewhere say that result does not diminish the importance of the November election. Although Raffensperger stood up to Trump, they claim, he also supported the GOP-controlled legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 202, an ‘election integrity’ law that imposed a litany of new restrictions. to the right to vote.

“Secretary of State Raffensperger may have done his job in 2020, but the least a secretary of state can do is not steal an election from the American people,” the secretary of state said. Colorado, Jena Griswold, president of the Democratic Association of State Secretaries, told HuffPost in an interview Tuesday night.

Raffensperger, she added, “caused enormous damage to the franchise during his tenure.”

The association, a campaign arm of the party, backed Nguyen in the Democratic race.

Georgia’s secretary of state contest is unlikely to garner as much attention as the more high-profile battles for governor and the U.S. Senate, but Democrats are hoping a strong lead ― led by the running mate Governor Stacey Abrams and Senator Raphael Warnock ― can help them win a contest they see as crucial in the fight to protect voting rights, elections and democracy itself in Georgia.

The race for Secretary of State, which determines Georgia’s top election official, has taken on increased importance after Trump sought to cancel the results of the 2020 presidential election in that state, and spread conspiracy theories and lies about widespread voter fraud and other irregularities that he says tainted the outcome. Raffensperger denied Trump’s attempts to claim an illegitimate victory in Georgia, attract anger of Trump and many Republicans.

Last year, Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature also used the alleged question of fraud youo pass SB 202, one of the largest and most aggressive packages in the country voting restrictions and electoral reforms. The bill stripped some powers from the secretary of state, put in place new restrictions on absentee voting, and gave the legislature more partisan power over elections.

Republican state legislatures passed 30 more bills limiting voting rights across the country in the wake of SB 202, which Democrats have chosen as a model for GOP attempts to suppress votes for black people, people with disabilities , other minority communities and young voters.

This has made Georgia one of main battlegrounds for Secretary of State raceswho have become a priority for both parties as Republican election deniers seek to win contests in key swing states and Democrats try to stop them.

The five Democratic candidates in Georgia’s secretary of state primary ran on platforms that emphasized protecting voting rights and democracy. The Democratic debates stood in stark contrast to those of the GOP, which focused on disputes over whether the 2020 election was stolen.

The Democratic candidates all opposed SB 202 and all said they would seek to implement policies that expand the franchise.

Nguyen, who in 2017 won the seat once held by Abrams, racked up the most support in the race and led the Democratic candidates in fundraising. She had the support of Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and more than 100 state lawmakers. She also won the endorsement of many national progressive groups, including Fair Fight, the voting rights organization started by Abrams; the pro-choice group NARAL; EMILY’s list; and the Service Employees International Union.

Nguyen decided to run for secretary of state after the January 2021 uprising on the U.S. Capitol, she told HuffPost last year. Nguyen, a daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who fled their country after an authoritarian communist government came to power, said she fears the GOP’s attempts to cancel the 2020 election and the increasingly More party authoritarianism only leads to the destruction of American democracy, especially with Republican Holocaust deniers lining up to run for secretary of state in Georgia and other swing states.

“We are one or two election cycles away from a constitutional crisis,” Nguyen said at the time. “We only have a handful of opportunities to get it right. If we don’t elect Secretaries of State in our swing states who will uphold the law and protect our democracy, we are going to be in trouble for a very long time.

Dawkins-Haigler, meanwhile, served as Georgia State Representative from 2009 to 2017. She ran for Secretary of State in 2016, but lost to former Representative John Barrow (D -Ga.) During a primary. During a primary debate in early May, Dawkins-Haigler called the GOP election law “unconscionable” and said it would increase funds to protect the right to vote and strengthen voter education.

“I want to make sure that the people of Georgia, black people in particular, will have free and fair elections and have access to the polls at all times,” Dawkins-Haigler said during a recent campaign stop, according to the Valdosta Daily. Times. . “Given the craziness of the past two years, I’m afraid their vote won’t count or be suppressed.”

Owens is a cybersecurity expert and former Marine who led the Cobb County Democratic Party in suburban Atlanta as that area turned increasingly blue. He lost two main challenges to Rep. David Scott (D) in 2014 and 2020.

Owens, like other Democratic candidates, said he opposes SB 202 and would seek to make it easier for Georgians to vote. He has also focused his campaign on Georgian businesses, saying the next secretary of state should prioritize minority-owned businesses.

Georgia Democrats haven’t won a race for secretary of state since 2002. But with voting rights issues animating many party voters, Democrats hope to follow their success there in 2020 – when Warnock, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D) and President Joe Biden won a trio of races at statewide — with another string of victories in November’s midterm elections.



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