THOMASVILLE — By all indications, Jody Hice’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives was safe.
However, he’s giving that up to run for statewide office.
Hice, a Greensboro Republican, is one of the candidates running for Georgia secretary of state, and he’s making election integrity a central part of his campaign.
What triggered Hice’s entry into the race was watching what happened with Georgia’s election process last year.
“It’s all about elections. It’s really, honestly all about election integrity,” he said. “I saw what happened in this state. I’ve been involved at the federal level. The more I found out what happened, the more angry I become. If we ever lose election integrity as American citizens, we’re done. And so, that really is the driving factor with me.”
Hice met with supporters Thursday night in Thomasville, laying out his objectives if he is elected secretary of state. The current office holder, Brad Raffensperger, who has drawn a considerable amount of criticism from fellow Republicans in the wake of the 2020 elections, is running for re-election. Among the Republican challengers is former Alpharetta mayor David Belle Isle. State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta) also is running for the office.
Hice first was elected to the U.S. House in 2014 and has won at least 62% of the vote each time since. He did not face any opposition in his 2018 re-election.
He has been outspoken in his support of voter identification measures.
“It’s essential,” he said. “If you don’t know who’s voting, you don’t know if it’s a legal ballot or not. At the end of the day, we need legal ballots cast and legal ballots counted. That’s all. It’s not about Republicans winning or Democrats losing, it’s about having a fair election and the voice of the people being legitimately granted. I can handle any election. If my candidate loses, I’ll be disappointed but if it was a fair election, the people voted and it is what it is.
“What I can’t tolerate and what others can’t tolerate is when there is an election and it is not fair. There were shenanigans going on that should never been allowed.”
While Georgia’s new voting law has been called into question as being suppressive and restrictive, Hice countered that it is not true. The new law, he says, is actually more permissive than those in other states.
“What’s restrictive? There is nothing restrictive,” he said. “What is suppressive? It is a level playing field for everyone. There is nothing suppressive about it. you show your ID and you vote. All that is rhetoric from the left to create fear so they can continue to cheat.
“Georgia is very generous,” Hice added. “This law is going to pass legal muster because it is not nearly as intrusive or restrictive as other states’, by far.”
Among the provisions of the new law are showing an ID to pick up an absentee ballot. For the 2020 general election, ballots had been mailed to addresses across the state. Hice also pointed to the use of ID in many other aspects of everyday life.
“The only people who don’t want voter ID are those who intend to abuse the lack of voter ID,” he said. “Voter ID is fair for everyone. You have to have ID to get a glass of wine, to get on an airplane. Our society is based upon you giving an ID before you go do something.”
Hice also expressed his opposition to HR 1 and HR 4, also known as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, respectively. One of his key points of contention, he says, is those proposed measures take away the state’s abilities to conduct elections and put them under federal control.
“HR 1 and HR 4 both take that right away from the states and centralize elections in Washington, D.C., with a bunch of bureaucrats,” he said. “It does away with the safeguards for election integrity. Who would possibly think it’s a good idea to send live ballots to everyone on a voter registration file and have no voter ID associated with those ballots.
"That’s foolishness. And HR 1 is packed with that type of stuff.”
Hice also carries a backing that he hopes will carry plenty of sway with Republicans and conservative voters in the race — he has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Trump endorsement has really catapulted us forward and I am deeply grateful for his support and his confidence that I am the best candidate for this.”