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Trump backs challenger to Georgia's top election official

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE on Monday endorsed a challenger to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) following a months-long feud with Georgia’s top Republicans over election fraud claims.

Trump will back Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow Hice21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol Georgia GOP censures state official who criticized Trump Republicans try but can't escape Jan. 6  MORE (R-Ga.), who will run for secretary of state rather than seek reelection to Georgia’s 10th Congressional District.

“Jody has been a steadfast fighter for conservative Georgia values and is a staunch ally of the America First agenda,” Trump said in a statement.

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“Unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out front with integrity," he added. "I have 100 percent confidence in Jody to fight for free, fair and secure election 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.”

Trump in 2020 became the first GOP presidential candidate to lose Georgia since 1992. Republicans also lost both Senate seats in runoff elections, which cost them a majority in the Senate.

The former president has refused to acknowledge defeat. Instead, Trump and his allies have alleged that the elections were stolen through a massive voter fraud scheme.

They’ve accused Raffensperger and Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempNorth Carolina county reverses course, ends coke machine ban MLB All-Star game to stay in Denver, judge rules MLB calls lawsuit over All-Star Game 'political theatrics' MORE (R) of not doing enough to address fraud they say stemmed from expanding access to mail ballots during the pandemic.

No evidence of widespread fraud has been offered, and Kemp and Raffensperger have disputed the allegations, saying the elections were free and fair and that they are investigating the isolated instances of fraud, which were not enough to change the outcome of the election.

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The Trump campaign lost dozens of court challenges seeking to overturn the election. Trump’s repeated claims that the election was stolen preceded the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol, where a mob of Trump supporters tried to stop the Electoral College vote count.

In an op-ed that ran in National Affairs on Monday, Raffensperger likened Trump’s claims to those made by Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2018. Abrams refused to concede her gubernatorial election loss to Kemp, claiming that the election was stolen from her through voter suppression and fraud.

Abrams is expected to challenge Kemp again in 2022.

“From my perspective, the most striking aspect of the Trump ordeal was not its novelty, but the unshakeable sense of déjà vu that dogged me throughout,” Raffensperger wrote.

“As a major national figure, [Abrams] had a distinct obligation to avoid slandering our electoral system. While her false charges (thankfully) did not lead to violence, they continue to be widely believed and repeated even now, and even by people who claim to be concerned about the integrity of our democracy. The corrosive effects of such lies are spreading still.”