Brad Raffensperger, running for Georgia secretary of state, had the same message for the Oconee County Republicans at their meeting last week as he had when he spoke to the group in January in the runup to the May Republican Party Primary.
Now competing in the primary runoff set for July 24, Raffensperger said he is motivated to seek the office to make sure only Americans vote in Georgia elections, to make sure the state is a great place to find a job, and to guarantee that the state is a great place to build a business.
The Republicans have three races on the ballot, for governor, for lieutenant governor, and for secretary of state, while the Democrats have only the state school superintendent race yet to settle via the primary runoff on the 24th.
Early voting continues through July 20 and is possible from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Board of Elections office at 10 Court Street next door to the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
Raffensperger was the lone speaker at the Republican Party meeting, held on June 28 at the Chamber of Commerce auditorium in Watkinsville and attended by 23 people, including the candidate and his representative.
The local Democratic Party also met last month, but no candidates spoke.
Raffensperger, from Johns Creek in north Fulton County, said what distinguishes him from his opponent in the runoff is his business experience.
Raffensperger is the CEO and owner of Tendon Systems LLC, a contracting and engineering design firm with specialty steel manufacturing plants in Columbus and in Forsyth County.
Alpharaetta Mayor David Belle Isle is the other candidate seeking the Republican Party nomination for secretary of state. Isle is an attorney.
In the May 22 primary, Raffensperger got 35 percent of the vote while Isle got 29 percent.
Four candidates were competing for the secretary of state office in the May Republican primary, and Raffensperger and Isle are on the runoff ballot because no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote.
Raffensperger represents District 50 in the Georgia House of Representatives. The district includes Johns Creek and other parts of north Fulton County.
Raffensperger gave more attention to the need to update the state’s voting machinery in his talk on Thursday night than he did when he spoke before county Republicans in January.
“We do need a new system,” Raffensperger said, noting that the current machines used in the state are 16 years old.
Raffensperger said the state needs a system that has “a verifiable paper audit trail.”
Whatever technology is adopted needs to work in small and large counties around the state, he added, without burdening local county election officials.
The state, rather than the counties, should cover the costs of updating the election machines, Raffensperger said.
Since December of last year, the Republican Party has not allowed me to record the business section of its meeting, though I am allowed to remain in the room and take notes.
Republican Party Committee Chair Tammy Gilland, who chaired the session on June 28, used part of the business meeting to recruit volunteers to help Brian Kemp in his campaign in the runoff election for governor.
Kemp, currently secretary of state, is joined by L.S. “Casey” Cagle in the Republican primary runoff. Cagle currently is lieutenant governor.
Cagle got 39 percent of the vote in May, to 26 percent for Kemp in a five-person contest.
Geoff Duncan, a businessman from Forsyth County, and David Shafer, a businessman fron Gwinnett County, are the two Republican candidates in the runoff for lieutenant governor.
Duncan got 27 percent of the vote in the May primary, and Shafer got 49 percent in a three-person contest.
Voters who used the Republican ballot in the May primary can participate in the July 24 Republican primary runoff, and voters who used the Democratic ballot in May can participate in the July 24 Democratic primary runoff.
Voters who did not cast a ballot in the primary of either party in May can vote in the July 24 primary of either party.
The sole Democratic race is between Sid Chapman and Otha Thornton Jr. for state school superintendent.
Chapman, a former high school teacher and president of the Georgia Association of Educators, got 37 percent of the vote in May, and Thornton, a retired Army officer and former president of the National Parent Teacher Association, got 44 percent. Three persons were in the race.
On Monday, 85 voters cast a Republican ballot in Oconee County, and one voter used the Democratic ballot.
No Saturday voting will be held during early voting for the July 24 runoff.
The Oconee County Democratic Party met on June 19.
The meeting was devoted to reports from committees, related groups, and individuals. No guest speaker was part of the program.
The first video below is of the June 19 meeting of the Oconee County Democrats. I could not attend the meeting, but Robert Wyatt recorded the video with a camera I lent him.
The second video is of the June 28 meeting of the Oconee County Republicans. The video ends after Raffensperger speaks and the business meeting begins.
Raffensperger began his comments at 2:45 in the video.
Both the Oconee County Democrats and the Oconee County Republicans met in the auditorium of the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce, 55 Nancy Drive in Watkinsville.