Rep. Jody Hice may leave Congress to run for Georgia secretary of state.
Hice, 60, a Republican from Greensboro, easily won his fourth term in 2020. He is one of two people representing Newton County in Congress, along with Lithonia Democrat Hank Johnson.
Greg Bluestein of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said state Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, “likely” would run to succeed Hice in Congress.
“My team and I are exploring options,” Hice told The Walton Tribune and The Covington News. “My priority has always been to serve the people of Georgia and lead with integrity. That continues to be my priority as Dee Dee and myself prayerfully consider our next steps.”
Hice said a decision could come “within the next few days.”
He also went on a radio show hosted by former Rep. Doug Collins to say former President Donald Trump was “supportive” of a Hice campaign.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is likely to face an intense GOP primary challenge. The secretary of state is the top elections official in Georgia, where Joe Biden narrowly beat Trump in the 2020 presidential race. Biden was the first Democrat to carry Georgia since 1992.
Trump claimed the election was stolen in Georgia, despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud.
Hice challenged Georgia’s electoral votes in Congress on Jan. 6, the day of the insurrection at the Capitol.
In a news release in December, Hice said he was unhappy with Raffensperger.
“Millions of Americans have lost faith in the integrity of our elections, and that is especially true in my home state of Georgia,” a letter from Republicans on the House Oversight Committee — where Hice was the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Government Operations — said.
“Unfortunately, to date, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has largely dismissed these legitimate concerns, asserting that the November election was ‘the most secure in history’ — while simultaneously saying his office is investigating more than 250 cases of potential wrongdoing.”
Raffensperger has said he is running for reelection.
After Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., announced his intention to retire in 2019, Hice told The Tribune he had been approached by several constituents about seeking Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment, but decided to run for reelection instead.
That seat went to Atlanta business executive Kelly Loeffler, who lost a January runoff to hold the seat for the remainder of the term.
Hice has worked to increase his national profile in recent months as a frequent guest on national television, especially on Republican-friendly outlets such as Newsmax.
Another prospective candidate for secretary of state is former state Rep. Vernon Jones of Lithonia, who was elected as a Democrat but spoke at the Republican National Convention and was an outspoken Trump supporter in the 2020 campaign. Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, whom Raffensperger beat in the 2018 runoff, is expected to run again.
Gaines was elected to the General Assembly in 2018, representing a district that includes portions of Barrow, Clarke, Jackson and Oconee counties. He works in the financial industry and has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Georgia, where he served as the student body president.
He did not return a phone call to his Atlanta office seeking comment.
Other prospective candidates for the congressional seat, according to the AJC, are trucking company executive Mike Collins, whom Hice beat in the 2014 GOP runoff when the seat was open, and former state party chairman John Padgett.