Rep. Jody Hice to challenge Brad Raffensperger for Georgia Secretary of State

Jody Hice, a Republican who represents Georgia's 10th Congressional District, announced Monday he is launching a campaign to challenge Georgia Secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. 

Hice, Georgia's District 10 congressman, criticized Raffesnperger's handling of the 2020 presidential election and championed voting legislation that will provide sweeping voting reform in the state.

"Free and fair elections are the foundation of our country," Hice said in a statement. "What Brad Raffensperger did was create cracks in the integrity of our elections, which I wholeheartedly believe individuals took advantage of in 2020. Though I am encouraged to see the General Assembly taking it upon themselves to address some of the glaring issues in our elections, Georgia deserves a Secretary of State who will own the responsibilities of the office.

Sitting Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger responded to Hice's announcement. He compared Hice to former U.S. Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who both lost runoff elections in January. 

"Few have done more to cynically undermine faith in our election than Jody Hice," Raffensperger said. "We saw in January what Georgia voters will do to candidates who use that rhetoric."

Hice took office in 2015. Congressman Hice serves as a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and House Committee on Natural Resources. He is the ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations and also serves on the subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Hice is also a member of the Natural Resources Subcommittees on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands and Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. 

RELATED: National voting rights organization urges congress to counter Georgia GOP election reform efforts

President Donald Trump endorsed Hice minutes after the campaign made an official announcement.

"One of our most outstanding Congressmen, Jody Hice, has announced he is running for Secretary of State in the Great State of Georgia," Trump said in a statement. "Jody has been a steadfast fighter for conservative Georgia values and is a staunch ally of the America First agenda. Unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out front with integrity. I have 100% confidence in Jody to fight for Free, Fair, and Secure Elections in Georgia, in line with our beloved U.S. Constitution. Jody will stop the Fraud and get honesty into our Elections! Jody loves the people of Georgia, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement."

The statement from Hice made no mention of Trump. 

Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle is also running for Secretary of State. 

Trump has also vowed to support a primary challenger for Gov. Brian Kemp.

"I'll be here in a year in a half campaigning against your governor," Trump said in a Jan. 4 rally. "And your crazy secretary of state."

Hice's district encompasses mostly areas of eastern Georgia between Atlanta suburbs and Augusta. 

"If elected, I will instill confidence in our election process by upholding the Georgia Constitution, enforcing meaningful reform and aggressively pursuing those who commit voter fraud," Hice said. "Every Georgian, in fact every American, has the right to be outraged by the actions and, simultaneously, the inaction of our Secretary of State. Our state deserves a leader who steers clear of scandals and focuses on the incredibly important duties of the office. If elected, my top priority will be ensuring every Georgian's legally cast ballot is counted in future elections. I am excited about our campaign and I know together we can renew integrity."

Hice spread disputed information on Twitter in the wake of the 2020 President Election regarding votes being switched from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden. Raffensperger certified Georgia's election results that favored Biden and stood by the results through multiple recounts. 

Hice endorsed a lawsuit filed by the Texas State Attorney General against Georgia and other battleground states that aimed to overturn Biden’s victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, which was rejected. Hice objected to the certification of Electoral College votes even after a pro-Trump mob violently stormed the U.S. Capitol.

In his final days in office, former President Donald Trump said he would campaign against Raffensperger, who he supported in the 2018 runnoff for the state office.

While no competitive campaign has announced it will challenge Kemp, Georgia Republicans are eying Rep. Doug Collins as Trump conservatives’ ideal primary candidate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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