Apr. 3—ALBANY — Manswell Peterson is not one to sit on the sidelines and observe.
The Navy veteran, former police officer and former college professor decided, after watching the Georgia state legislature pass Senate Bill 202 that, among other things, has led to Major League Baseball pulling its annual high-profile all-star game out of the state, to announce his candidacy for the secretary of state's office.
Peterson made the announcement during a media event in the courtyard of the downtown Albany-Dougherty County Government Center Friday, one of several campaign stops he had planned across the state over the weekend.
"After watching the kind of unethical behavior we've see in Georgia over the last 12 years, I couldn't stand by and do nothing any longer," Peterson, who lives in Albany with his family, said. "Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our country; that's why I took an oath to defend it.
"But now the Georgia Republican party has decided that the election process that they set up is no longer good for them because they lost in the last election cycle. I want to bring back the integrity of this office."
Peterson, who has authored a number of books, including his recent release "Church Pain, Church Hurt," said one of his Atlanta friends convinced him to consider running for political office, a challenge he'd not at the time considered.
"My friend suggested I get in the race, but I didn't know at first," the former Darton College professor said. "I'd never really thought about it. But I talked it over with my wife, with people who are a part of the state Democratic party, and my family and I prayed about it.
"I'm excited to be the first south Georgia candidate to seek statewide office in about 20 years. I've been excited about the response to my candidacy that I've seen in Albany, Americus, Savannah, Columbus and Atlanta. I've got some endorsements coming that will blow your mind."
Peterson said Georgians standing in lines as long as "four, five and six hours is a disgrace," a matter that he said could be fixed with "better using the technology that is available to us." He also said the SB 202 plan for the state to arbitrarily take control of "underperforming elections boards" is a recipe for corruption.
"That provision of the law is enough to strongly suggest voter suppression and voter fraud," Peterson said. "If a vote doesn't go the way the current politicians want, they can simply take over a county's election process and overturn it."
Peterson said he's ready to take on "Brad and Jody," referencing current Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and announced Republican challenger Jody Hice.
"Georgia can't deal with another four years of Brad saying one thing, then changing tomorrow because he fears the wrath of voters in his party," Peterson said. "We also definitely don't need Jody suppressing votes to satisfy a party of one. He and Trump need to let Georgia handle Georgia."
"(SB202) is a disgrace to Georgia, and it comes after an election cycle when there were no issues with the system that was in place. What Georgians don't need is a secretary of state pushing lies about voter fraud that erodes trust in the process. I want to help put an end to voter suppression for the sake of a handful of people trying to hold onto partisan power."
In addition to writing novels, Peterson said he is involved in, among other endeavors, feeding the indigent during Thanksgiving (75 families), a school shoe giveaway, a toy/Christmas tree drive, and delivering Narcan to people susceptible to opioid overdoses.
"I have always been someone who will fight for those who can't fight for themselves," he said. "And I pledge to be a secretary of state that Georgia can be proud of. If I'm elected, I will represent all Georgians, not just the few who are trying to hold onto power."