Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made a quick exit from a Republican breakfast in Grovetown under armed guard Saturday morning after listeners became hostile to the man they blame for former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.
Everyone played nice while they sipped coffee, prayed and pledged allegiance to the American flag at the Mi Rancho Restaurant, 4010 Gateway Boulevard near Lewiston Road.
But as soon as Raffensperger got up to speak, the grumbling and guffaws began.
It didn’t help that Raffensperger, who is seeking re-election in the upcoming May 24 primary, told the audience that Trump is the one who was responsible for the loss.
“Thirty-three thousand voters voted for Republican congressional candidates down ballot who didn’t vote for Trump,” Raffensperger said. “And that’s why he came up short.”
In taped telephone calls to Raffensperger, Trump had urged the Republican, who oversees Georgia elections, to find the extra votes that would have given the state to Trump instead of President Joe Biden, who won the election. The district attorney in Fulton County opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s telephone call and Raffensperger stood up to the former president and told him there was not widespread voter fraud in Georgia.
Raffensperger spent 37 minutes trying to convince Columbia County Republicans that he deserves their consideration and support. A few listened to his argument, but for true Trump fans, Raffensperger was a traitor. The fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Bureau of Investigation backed up Raffensperger’s assertion that no widespread voter fraud happened in Georgia didn’t matter.
“I wanted to see what a brave man looks like,” said Andrew King, a 63-year-old retired Martinez chiropractor who hissed and yelled during portions of Raffensperger’s presentation. “I am impressed he would show his face here after betraying the people of the state.”
“So all this is not jiving, something smells. It’s not right,” yelled Carmen Badua, 52, of Evans. “Sir, I am going to respect you with all Christian love and kindness, but I am telling you. You are wrong. You are in bed with Stacy Abrams. I know you are.”
Badua waved what she said was a California absentee ballot that had been mailed to her home. Turns out it was simply a request form for an absentee ballot, which are commonly mailed to members of the military by their home states. Badua did say it was mailed to a member of the military.
Raffensperger spent a large part of his presentation arguing that Abrams, the Democrat gubernatorial candidate who lost to Gov. Brian Kemp, was a danger to voting in Georgia. He also touted his efforts to make requiring all voters, even absentee voters, present identification before being allowed to vote, over Abrams’ objections.
U.S. Congressman Rick Allen, an avid Trump supporter whose district includes Columbia County, also stoked the hostility and challenged Raffensperger during the breakfast.
“The state of Georgia needs to clean this up,” Allen said, to sounds of “that’s right” and “um-hmm.”
He compared voting practices in Georgia, such as ballot harvesting, which is illegal in Georgia, to voting in the former Soviet Union.
“That’s the same thing Stalin did in Russia,” Allen said.