Georgia’s two “political pariahs” are now seen as stubborn sages


Two Georgia state constitutional officials had the guts to challenge President Donald Trump over what he alleges was voter fraud in late 2020. These men faced political oblivion after rejecting Trump’s corrupt overtures. So said political writers to the nation. One of these men was even described as having “not even a prayer” for re-election.

Look at them now, after the 2022 midterm elections. Not only were they reelected, they were redeemed. Brad Raffensperger retained his post as Georgia Secretary of State, and Brian Kemp received four more years as governor. Other Republicans, such as former Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, have also faced Trump’s wrath. But Raffsenperger and Kemp even faced death threats from Trump supporters.

At a Nov. 7 press conference in Columbus, Georgia, I asked Kemp how much interstate collaboration he had with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. He commended our governor for her leadership on issues of shared economic development and the “water wars.” He said that during his four years as governor, he and Ivey had a “tremendous relationship” in finding solutions to problems.

I mention this because Kemp and Trump had a strained relationship, while Ivey and Trump tended to agree on most issues. It’s commendable that Ivey puts aside the resentment most Republicans held toward Kemp (in 2020). Instead, she worked with Kemp as she had before the breakup between Trump and the Georgia governor. That means Ivey and Kemp work well with someone, even if they disagree on other issues. It’s a talent we should all learn.

“We should be consistent in what we do so that others will know they can depend on us,” said Sterling W. Sill (1903–1994), a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “More importantly, we can rely on ourselves. The biggest pain is disappointing yourself.”

Many politicians think that loyalty should be infallible or forever. That is not true. When an action is morally or legally wrong, loyalty should not make you defend untenable actions. The two Georgia conservatives took on the most powerful of today’s Republican Party.

Amazingly, the governor and secretary of state not only survived, they thrived. Staying true to the law and the land is not appreciated in these politically “tribal” times. We can only hope that the 2020 election deniers who were sent away on November 8th will understand that it is counterproductive to maintain such beliefs. Several candidates gave up these lies, as Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Don Bolduc in New Hampshire.

After the election, Raffensperger’s fellow Republicans, US Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, issued a statement accusing him of unknown “failures” and calling for his resignation. The senators offered no evidence to support their claims, which they made following pressure from Trump, who promoted conspiracy theories and falsely said the election was rigged. One AP story was shocking, in which “Trump on tape pressuring Ga. officials to ‘find’ him votes.”

Carl Bernstein, who broke up the Watergate scandal with Bob Woodward in 1972, called the Trump-Raffensperger scandal “much worse than Watergate.” He said that in any other presidency, Trump’s actions would result in him being impeached, convicted and facing bipartisan calls for his resignation. I also note that political politicization and the far-right media were so powerful by 2020 that the conservative side carried a lot of weight in arguments and investigations.

“Today the devil is after me!” said Attorney L. Lin Wood in a statement on April 27, 2020. “The Fulton County Attorney, as you can see in the email to my attorney below, is attacking me and demanding me to testify before the ‘Trump Witch Hunt’ grand jury!”

He was a supporting actor in the investigation into the 2020 election fraud. He rose to prominence in the 1990s when he defended 1996 Olympics security guard Richard Jewell in a defamation case.

On March 28, almost four months after the 2020 presidential election, political strategists in Georgia wrote that Raffensperger already had a main challenger for 2022. The state parliament also stripped him of some of his official powers as foreign minister. Both Raffensperger and Kemp were very unpopular with many Republicans.

“He’s toast,” said Jay Williams, a Georgia-based Republican strategist. “I don’t know that there is a single elected official who would stand up for Brad Raffensperger right now.”

I wonder where this strategist is now that Georgia’s Secretary of State and Governor will be inaugurated on January 9, 2023. Lo and behold, they will bear the same name as the incumbents.

Greg Markley moved to Lee County in 1996. He has a Masters in Education from AUM and a Masters in History from Auburn University. He taught politics as an adjunct professor in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and Civil Life, writing for The Observer since 2011. He writes about politics, education and books. [email protected]