As President Donald Trump and other Republicans pushed false claims of widespread voter fraud in the weeks following the presidential election, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state was among a group of officials across the country who drew the ire of the President and his supporters for pushing back against those unfounded claims.
But for Brad Raffensperger, calls for his ousting, threats against him and his family and a few fiery insults from Trump failed to disrupt his message that Georgia’s election was secure. Despite those insults and threats from Trump’s supporters, the Republican secretary of state still supports the President, saying, “A lot of times it’s bigger than the person, it’s really a philosophy.”
Raffensperger’s faith and his experience dealing with personal tragedies helped him weather the difficult election season, he told CNN’s Amara Walker in an interview that aired Thursday on “New Day.”
“Well, I really say that, you know, my faith really is part of me. It’s part of who I am, I guess, it becomes part of your character. It’s just sewn in, and one of the threads of your total human personhood that you have,” he said. “It’s part of me and so we lean into it.”
Raffensperger, who explained that his late son struggled with — among other things — addiction and a cancer diagnosis, said the experience of navigating that personal tragedy similarly helped him this year. Raffensperger’s son died of a Fentanyl overdose.
“Obviously, we have been prepared,” he said, referring to himself and his wife, Tricia. “I think the challenges that you go through in life, you know, they can make you bitter, they can make you better.”
Elected in 2018, Raffensperger, a soft-spoken businessman and former Georgia state lawmaker, was thrust into the national spotlight in recent weeks as Trump sought to overturn the election results in the state, which was won by President-elect Joe Biden.
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia, which Biden won by more than 12,000 votes. Nearly 5 million votes were cast statewide.
The state’s Republican US senators have called for Raffensperger’s resignation, the Republican governor publicly pressured him to investigate groundless charges of a fraudulent election and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called him directly to discuss how absentee ballots might be thrown out (though Graham has said he was merely asking about signature verification).
And though Raffensperger has been steadfast in his support of Trump and has said repeatedly he wishes the President won his state, his public rebuke of Trump’s fraud claims have led the President to publicly criticize him, declaring last month that he’s an “enemy of the people” and writing on Twitter that Raffensperger is “a so-called Republican (RINO),” or Republican in name only.
Beyond the post-election political fallout, Raffensperger and his wife have also received death threats.
“Tricia got the first ones. For some reason they targeted her. I think the first one was ‘tell Brad to step down,’ you know, and that type of thing,” he said. “But then they’ve just really, you know, ramped up, and then went to stage two, and they just got vulgar and rude.”
He continued: “Then I got stuff, you know insulting me. And also, you know, you know threats in it..”
Pressed by Walker on his continued support for Trump given the fact that the threats are said to have been bolstered following the President’s criticism, Raffensperger pointed to his political philosophy. He demurred when asked if he thought the President shares his values of civility, compassion and integrity, saying simply: “Well, I really don’t know. I just know that at the end of the day, my job is managing myself.”
Though some Republicans have cast doubt on Raffensperger’s political future — with one GOP operative telling CNN last month that he wondered if the secretary will even run for reelection in two years — he was clear during the interview that he’s sticking around for another shot at his post.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked if he’ll be working to ensure a smooth election in 2024. “Because I’ll be on the ballot.”