President Trump’s demand that Republicans stay loyal to him and repeat his false claims that the election was stolen by Democrats is driving a schism in the GOP that has erupted into something like a civil war in Georgia.
Republican senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue demanded the resignation of Georgia’s GOP secretary of state Brad Raffensperger on Monday, claiming he “failed to deliver honest and transparent elections” but offering no specifics or proof to back up the allegation of election “irregularities.” The call for Raffensperger to “step down immediately” came hours after his office rebuked claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia’s election, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, where President-elect Joe Biden’s lead has grown to more than 10,500 votes. “The mismanagement and lack of transparency from the Secretary of State is unacceptable,” Perdue and Loeffler said in their joint statement. “There have been too many failures in Georgia elections this year and the most recent election has shined a national light on the problems. While blame certainly lies elsewhere as well, the buck ultimately stops with the Secretary of State.”
The senators’ attack amplifies Trump’s ongoing lies about election fraud and refusal to accept defeat. Trump reiterated his delusion on Twitter moments after Loeffler and Perdue demanded Raffensperger’s resignation, an apparent endorsement of their attack. Both senators were forced into runoff races against Democrats after they both failed to secure 50 percent of the vote required for an outright win on Election Day. The runoff elections could determine control of the Senate, and it seems that Perdue and Loeffler are trying to stay on Trump’s good side so they can turn out Republican voters on January 5. Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, also weighed in, supporting the senators against the secretary of state.
Raffensperger firmly rejected the senators’ call for his resignation in a statement later that day that came close to calling other Republicans sore losers. “I know emotions are running high. Politics are involved in everything right now. If I was Senator Perdue, I’d be irritated I was in a runoff. And both senators and I are all unhappy with the potential outcome for our president.” Raffensperger defended the general election as a “resounding success” and maintained that “the process of reporting results had been orderly and followed the law,” though he nonetheless paid lip service to the ongoing claims of fraud propagated by the president and his allies. “Was there illegal voting? I am sure there was. And my office is investigating all of it. Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes? That is unlikely,” Raffensperger said.