Election 2022: State Rep. Bee Nguyen running for GA SOS

State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta) is entering the race for Georgia's top election official

With the 2022 campaign officially in full swing, another Democratic state lawmaker is making the leap to statewide office.

State Rep. Bee Nguyen, a Democrat from Atlanta, announced on Tuesday that she will enter the race for Georgia’s top elections official. A nonprofit director, Nguyen currently represents the DeKalb County House district that was once represented by Stacey Abrams. She is the first Vietnamese-American woman to serve in the Georgia Legislature.

First elected to the House in a 2017 special election, Nguyen has emerged as a leading voice against the recent rise in hate crimes targeting members of the Asian-American community. She spoke at a rally in Downtown Atlanta following the horrific shootings at metro Atlanta spas and has called for the suspect to be charged with hate crimes.

She has also been critical of the conspiracy theories from Trump allies about Georgia’s election systems. At a hearing following the presidential election, Nguyen questioned a list of “illegal voters” presented by the Trump campaign. She skewered the former President’s lawyers for disclosing the personal information of some voters without their consent. “If you are going to take the names of voters in the state of Georgia and publish their first, middle and last name, their home address, and accuse them of committing a felony, at the very minimum there should have been an attempt to contact these voters,” she scolded.

Nguyen is challenging incumbent Republican Brad Raffensperger, who has become a favorite target of the former President and his inner circle for refusing to overturn the results of the presidential election in Georgia. Nguyen has chastised Raffensperger for supporting the recently passed election restriction bill, which actually strips the Secretary of State of certain powers.

But before Raffensperger can face off against Nguyen, he must first navigate through what will likely be a difficult Republican primary. A January poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that the Republican elections chief had higher numbers with Democrats than with voters from within his own party. In March, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro), a favorite of the far-right who supported objections to the electoral college results, announced that he would challenge Raffensperger in the Republican primary with Trump’s endorsement. And former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, who handily lost to Raffensperger in a 2018 Republican runoff, is also running for the office again.

It remains to be seen if other Democrats will enter the race, but Nguyen has the profile of a candidate who might be able to scare off other challengers. She has been very visible at protests and on cable news amid the spike in Asian-American hate crimes, and she currently holds a position in leadership at the Georgia Democratic Party. While state party leaders very seldom take sides in primaries, it’s not difficult to envision them privately (or publicly) supporting their colleague.