Annapolis, MD—Days after audio of a phone call between President Donald Trump and the Georgia Secretary of State, his counterpart in Maryland sat, alone and forlorn, staring at the phone.
“Someone with a 202 area code called 20 minutes ago. I picked it up on the first ring before (administrative assistant) Teresa (McCook) could grab it…turned out it was a guy selling diet pills,” John Wobensmith said. “I probably should have bought some. I’m so fat.”
Wobensmith, Maryland’s Secretary of State since 2015, and Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger are the only Republicans to hold such a position in a state carried by President-Elect Joe Biden. The outgoing president called Raffensperger for an hour Saturday to ask, repeatedly, for the election results there to be overturned. Though that effort was unsuccessful, Wobensmith firmly expected to be next. Days later, though, Wobensmith fears that he no longer has the president’s eye.
“I could find 11,000 votes! I’m sure there were dead people in Baltimore that voted. We could do such great things together,” Wobensmith said.
Wobensmith recalled a meeting at the White House in 2018 where he and several other GOP state officials met the president.
“He looked right at me, shook my hand, and said ‘I like the looks of this one here. Why don’t you and me get a burger sometime, talk about restricting voting rights.’ He was so nice,” Wobensmith said. “He slapped me on the back, real strong, and I just…I don’t know.”
A staffer, who asked not to be identified, rolled their eyes when asked about the situation.
“Let me guess, he brought up that time at the White House. Yeah. He won’t shut up about it. I’ve tried to tell him that the president meets with a lot of people and tries to undo democracy with most of them,” the staffer said. “John, you’re not special.”
McCook said her boss has been distant at work, except when she’s on the phone talking about the election.
“He came darting out of his office Monday; I wasn’t even sure he was here since I hadn’t heard a word out of him all day, but I was talking with a county official about how to store voting machines. That got his attention,” McCook said. “(Wobensmith) says, ‘Is that him?’ and I had to shake my head ‘no’. The guy on the phone heard it, and I just told him it was someone fixing the copier. I think he bought it.”
Wobensmith stayed late in his office Tuesday, hoping for that special call that never came.
“I know he’s got a mob to incite, but still. What’s so special about Brad? (in a mocking tone) Brad, Brad; that’s a stupid name,” Wobensmith said. “Now I know how Marla Maples felt.”