Bee Nguyen speaks to members of the media in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Nguyen is the Democratic nominee for secretary of state in Georgia after winning a runoff primary, NBC News projects.
Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images
State Rep. Bee Nguyen is the Democratic nominee for secretary of state in Georgia after winning a runoff primary, NBC News projects.
Nguyen easily beat out former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, the other top vote-getter to emerge from the primary last month, on Tuesday.
Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia General Assembly, will face GOP incumbent Brad Raffensperger in November. Raffensperger won a tough primary election last month after being targeted by former President Donald Trump for refusing to help the then-president subvert the results of the 2020 election.
Since her election to the state House in 2017, Nguyen, 40, has been a vocal voting rights advocate, especially for racial minorities and immigrants. She has been a vocal defender of the 2020 election and a critic of Republican-led voting restrictions, and had the backing of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dinkens.
Should Nguyen win the general election on Nov. 8, she would be the first Asian American elected to a statewide political office in Georgia.
Both Nguyen and Dawkins-Haigler focused their bids on defending future elections in the critical swing state that President Joe Biden flipped blue for the first time in decades.
Nguyen’s victory comes amid the rapid growth of Georgia’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, the number of AAPI voters in Georgia increased by 84 percent.
Nguyen previously told NBC Asian America that she decided to run for secretary of state during the Dec. 2020 hearings in the Georgia House on Republicans’ claims of voter fraud in the presidential election. “I felt like it’s my responsibility and duty to step up,” she said.
Nguyen received national attention when she debunked claims about illegal voting made by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign aide who testified at the hearing.
Before entering politics in 2017, Nguyen, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, founded Athena’s Warehouse in 2009, a Georgia-based nonprofit that provides used prom dresses to high schoolers from low-income families.
She was elected to the state House in 2017 to fill the seat once held by Abrams, who ran for governor. Abrams narrowly lost her 2018 race but is running again this year against GOP incumbent Brian Kemp.
“I understand the nuances in the needs that AAPI people have in our state, and not addressing those needs hurts the economy and public health outcomes,” Nguyen previously said. “I think it’s important to continue to ensure that we build upon the diverse coalition in Georgia and that AAPI representation is a part of that.”
As Georgia voters cast ballots in a number of runoff races Tuesday, Raffensperger was in Washington, D.C., testifying before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol about the pressure Trump and his close allies personally applied to state officials to get them to change the results of the presidential election in key states like Georgia.