Trump tries to drum out GOP election officials who won’t play his games

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s family has received threats and he expects a primary challenge in 2022.

President Donald Trump has driven senators into retirement and tweeted wayward Republicans into primary defeat during four years leading the GOP. Now, as a lame duck, he’s launched a new campaign against GOP election officials who won’t bend to his will. 

Trump’s drive to discredit the results of an election he lost has put him at odds with the Republican elected officials and administrators who oversaw the vote in key states — and called it what it was: a free and fair election. Being at odds with Trump doesn’t go over well in today’s Republican Party, and Trump has turned their political bases against them, even unleashing threats from his most rabid supporters.

No GOP official has caught more flak than Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fairly conventional Republican who won the job as Georgia’s top election official two years ago running as a rock-ribbed, anti-voter fraud conservative — with Trump’s endorsement. Now, after refusing strident calls from Trump and allies not to certify results that show President-elect Joe Biden carried Georgiahe’s facing down a potential primary challenge in 2022 and his family is dealing with death threats. 

“I am a Republican, and a conservative one. And I believe that I’m going to be disappointed, because I don’t believe that my candidate is going to win,” Raffensperger said in an interview this week, before Georgia certified its results. “But that said, I want 100 percent of people to have confidence in the results. I’m not gonna like it. And I’m gonna have to take that medicine, just like everyone else in my party will, but it will be an accurate count.”

Trump has egged on opposition to Raffensperger, labeling him a RINO in a tweet and amplifying calls from GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for Raffensperger to resign.

The threats “started out fairly general in nature,” said Al Schmidt, a Republican elections commissioner in Philadelphia. “But then regrettably, after the president tweeted my name, there were more of them, and they were far more specific in nature. So, referencing my children, and what they’re going to do to them.”

Like Raffensperger, the president tweeted about Schmidt, also calling him a RINO and saying he “refuses to look at a mountain of corruption & dishonesty.” Schmidt said he now has a security detail from the city to protect him and his family. 

“It’s not just me, it’s also my staff, the other commissioners,” Schmidt said. The threats are not new, either. Many election officials have been dealing with them for months. 

Election officials across the country have reported receiving threats for doing their jobs. “There are those, including the president, members of Congress and other elected officials, who are perpetuating misinformation and are encouraging others to district the election results in a manner that violates the oath of office they took,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Their words and actions have consequences.” 

“I’m concerned, I would say, for the future of our country in some respects,” Schmidt said. “Obviously, I’m concerned about the party and its future. But just more broadly, the damage that’s being done to our electoral system.”

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