Faced with loud criticism from President Donald Trump’s campaign and two Republican U.S. senators who’ve called for his resignation, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state has been forced to defend himself against the broadsides from his own party.
Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump by more than 12,500 votes in the state with 99% of expected ballots tallied, according to the Associated Press. And while Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he wishes that weren’t the case, he can’t change it.
He hoped for a Trump win, “but not enough folks turned out, and that’s where we are right now,” Raffensperger told Jim Galloway, a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in an interview published Tuesday.
“But we’re going to make sure that we follow through the process, that we’re going to count every legal ballot, and the results will be the results,” the secretary added. “I’m a constitutional conservative. I follow the law.”
Raffensperger has been on the defense ever since what appeared to be a coordinated attack from the Trump campaign and Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) on Monday. The latter pair called on the secretary to resign but didn’t provide any specific reason why he should, and Trump, exercising his powers of reality-bending, asserted that he had “won” Georgia on election night — before thousands of votes had been counted.
Georgia will be a big presidential win, as it was the night of the Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2020
On Tuesday, several members and members-elect in Georgia’s congressional delegation piled on, asking Raffensperger to look into into the Trump campaign and the Georgia Republican Party’s allegations of supposedly “serious allegations of voting irregularities.” (They also referred to Raffensperger as the “George Secretary of State.”)
Galloway noted that he was escorted by two security guards to his meeting with the secretary Monday evening, just a few hours after the senators’ call for Raffensperger’s resignation. “There had already been death threats, you see,” the columnist noted.
The attacks followed Georgia elections officials’ efforts Monday morning to shoot down conspiratorial claims of wrongdoing in the state’s elections.
The senators have their own skin in the game: After failing to garner more than 50% of the vote in their own Nov. 3 races, they now have to participate in run-off elections against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively, in races that could determine the balance of power in the Senate.
“As a Republican, I am concerned about Republicans keeping the U.S. Senate,” Raffensperger said in response to the senators’ resignation call Monday. “I recommend that Senators Loeffler and Perdue start focusing on that.”
Speaking to the newspaper’s columnist a couple hours later, the secretary was still feeling stung.
“In the business world that I live in, if we have an issue with people, we call them directly and we have our conversation,” Raffensperger told Galloway. “We don’t just send it out to the world.”