Former President Donald Trump is expected to endorse Rep. Jody Hice in a campaign to unseat Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in next year’s Republican primary, according to three people familiar with Trump’s decision.
Trump publicly seethed about Raffensperger after the November election, when the secretary of state refused to support Trump’s false claims that Georgia’s 16 electoral votes were stolen from him. Top Raffensperger aides had publicly rebuked the president’s conspiracy theories, warning in early December that it would lead to potential violence.
The then-president aggressively pressured Raffensperger, including in an early January call when Trump told Raffensperger that he should “find” a specific number of votes so that he could reverse Joe Biden’s victory in the state. The call has exposed Trump to potential legal consequences, with Georgia prosecutors investigating whether he improperly tried to influence the election results.
Hice, who first won election to his east-central Georgia seat in 2014, is a staunch Trump ally who supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. He derided the Democratic-led push to impeach Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot as “bogus.”
The 60-year-old congressmember has been publicly flirting with a bid, saying last week that he was “exploring options” and to expect a decision “within the next few days.” Hice also said that Trump was “supportive” of his potential candidacy.
Trump has been fixated on Georgia as he maps out his plans for the 2022 midterms. The former president has been trying to recruit a primary opponent to GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Trump has accused of doing too little to intervene in the state’s vote count. He has also publicly encouraged former NFL running back Herschel Walker to mount a Senate bid.
The former president also recently hosted former Sen. David Perdue at his South Florida resort as Perdue was weighing whether to challenge Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, before Perdue decided not to run.
People familiar with the deliberations over the Hice endorsement cautioned that, as always, Trump’s plans could change. It is unclear when an endorsement could take place, though during a Sunday appearance on Fox News, Trump adviser Jason Miller said Trump would be announcing Monday his support for a Georgia candidate.
“Really importantly, pay attention to Georgia, tomorrow, on Monday. There’s a big endorsement that’s coming that’s really going to shake things up in the political landscape in Georgia. It’s big, it’s coming tomorrow, and just be sure to tune in,” Miller said.
A Trump spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.
Raffensperger and his aides have been preparing for a potential primary challenge since he broke with the president. Should he survive the primary, Raffensperger would also likely face a serious challenge from Democrats, who are eager to take the office.