Democratic Runoff Candidates for Georgia Secretary of State Make Case to Take on Brad Raffensperger

Key Points
  • Primary Runoffs are June 21 and Early Voting begins June 13.
  • State Rep. Bee Nguyen and former State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler are the Democrat runoff candidates.
  • The winner of the Runoff will face Republican incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

At a debate on Monday evening, State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler and State Rep. Bee Nguyen, who are vying for the Democratic nomination for Georgia’s Secretary of State, presented largely similar policy visions and pitched to voters why they believe they are best poised to take on Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger. 

What’s Happening

Dawkins-Haigler positioned herself as “a fighter” with more leadership experience than Nguyen, who prior to being a legislator worked in the nonprofit sector. Nguyen, boasting the endorsement of party leader and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, said she has the “political acumen” for the office, in particular working across party lines. Dawkins-Haigler has been endorsed by the three candidates that did not make the runoff. 

The candidates also made an appeal to Democrats that Raffensperger may have won over when he stood up to former President Donald Trump, who pressured Raffensperger to “find” votes to win Georgia in the 2020 election. 

Dawkins-Haigler and Nguyen both support transitioning to a hand-marked paper ballot system to improve security and boost voter confidence in the elections. It’s a position Nguyen championed as a state representative before she was a candidate for the office and believes she can find common ground with conservatives on the issue. 

Click the image above to view Dee Dawkins-Haigler speaking to the press after the debate (State Affairs).

”I would look for common areas where we can actually build common ground, instill confidence, such as moving to a hand-marked paper ballot system, where both voters on both sides of the aisle actually agree upon,” Nguyen said. 

Georgia uses machine-marked paper ballots and Dominion voting machine systems – the focus of many unfounded claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

Speaking to the press after the debates, Dawkins-Haigler pointed to Minnesota and other midwestern and western states as voting system models to emulate. Nguyen praised Colorado’s system. 

Click the image above to view Bee Nguyen speaking to the press after the debate (State Affairs).

Both candidates also support expanding “license reciprocity” in Georgia, allowing businesses and professionals to more easily operate in the state with business and professional licenses from other states. 

“We need to have a customer service-oriented secretary of state,” Dawkins-Haigler said. 

“We need to invest in the workforce in the state of Georgia, which means expanding license reciprocity; it means expanding interstate compact; and [it] means removing barriers for those who have been part of the criminal legal system so they can obtain occupational licenses,” said Nguyen. 

Dee Dawkins-Haigler (left) and Bee Nguyen (right) chat at the Atlanta Press Club Debate, June 6, 2022. Photo Credit: Brynn Anderson/AP (pool)

On facing Secretary Raffensperger in the general election on November 8, both candidates said voters leaning toward Raffensperger should reconsider. 

Dawkins-Haigler said Raffensperger’s actions in defying Trump’s call to invalidate votes were motivated not by a respect for the rule of law, but by self-interest in defending the voting system he put in place. “He stood up for himself,” she said, later adding that, “now he’s getting accolades for doing his job.”

Nguyen similarly said that “following the law should not be the standard” to which the office is held. The Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing elections in Georgia, as well as business licensure. 

What’s Next

State Rep. Bee Nguyen and former State Rep. Dee Dawkins Haigler face each other in a runoff election on June 21. Early voting begins June 13. June 10 is the last day to request a mail-in ballot. The winner will face Republican incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Graphic by Brittney Phan for State Affairs.

Join the Conversation

Watch a replay of the debate on Youtube

Bee Nguyen is on Twitter: @BeeForGeorgia and on Facebook

Dee Dawkins-Haigler is on Twitter: @DawkinsHaigler and on Facebook.

What do you want to know about the Secretary of State’s runoff? Email: [email protected] or on Twitter: @Alemzs