‘She is our future’: A Democratic rising star seeks to make history in Georgia’s secretary of state race

Atlanta (CNN)The two dozen volunteers who gathered outdoors on a humid Saturday morning had a very specific assignment: Fan out through the surrounding neighborhood in the hopes of persuading Democrats to show up in Tuesday’s primary election and vote for secretary of state candidate Bee Nguyen.

But Nguyen, a state lawmaker who has helped lead the fight against Republican efforts to restrict voting in this presidential battleground, framed the mission in stark terms.
“This race is about defending the freedom to vote,” Nguyen said, standing before a picnic table covered in glossy campaign flyers. “It is about protecting the future of our democracy.”
The battle to become Georgia’s next secretary of state and preside over the 2024 presidential election here has emerged as one of the most hotly contested fights for election chiefs this year. The job has taken on new weight after repeated attempts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 loss in the state. In the aftermath of that election, the Republican-controlled legislature passed sweeping changes to voting rules — actions that critics say are aimed at dampening the record turnout from 2020 that helped President Joe Biden become the first Democratic presidential contender in nearly 30 years to win the Peach State.
Republicans are facing a contentious primary of their own on Tuesday, with the incumbent, Brad Raffensperger, who famously rebuffed Trump’s request to “find” votes, facing several challengers including Rep. Jody Hice. Hice, one of the 147 House Republicans who voted against certifying Biden’s win on January 6, 2021, won Trump’s backing in the race as the former President seeks to exact revenge on Raffensperger and other Republicans he views as disloyal.

For Nguyen to take on the eventual Republican nominee in the fall, she will first have to win Tuesday night. If she does capture the Democratic nomination and then prevails against the GOP candidate, she would become the first Asian American elected to a statewide political post in Georgia. And that win might signal that the fast-changing demographics that helped propel Biden to victory here nearly two years ago had become a durable path to power for Democrats in this Deep South state.
“We’re battling for the soul of the nation right here in Georgia,” said veteran Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, and the whip of the Congressional Black Caucus.
He’s endorsed the 40-year-old Nguyen, bypassing four other Democratic contenders. “She is our future,” he said.