Georgia’s GOP lieutenant governor rules out Senate run but says ‘Trump’s divisive tone and strategy is unwinnable’ for the future of the Republican party

Geoff Duncan
Georgia Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, a Republican, speaks on the floor of the State Senate.

  • Geoff Duncan, the lieutenant governor of Georgia, called Trump’s strategy “unwinnable” going forward.
  • Duncan, a Republican, on Sunday said he wouldn’t run for US Senate in 2022.
  • Trump lashed out at members of the Georgia GOP for refusing to help him overturn the election.
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Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, said Sunday the strategy that propelled Trump to the nation’s highest office in 2016 wouldn’t work for Republicans moving forward.

“Republicans don’t need election reform to win, we need leadership,” Duncan said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “I think there’s millions of Republicans waking up around the country that are realizing that Donald Trump’s divisive tone and strategy is unwinnable in forward-looking elections.

“We need real leadership, we need new focus, a GOP 2.0 that includes moderates in the middle, to get us to the next election cycle,” he added.

Duncan said Trump’s refusal to concede the election and continued spread of unfounded conspiracy theories about the election did damage to the GOP.

“It hurt Republicans in any sort of conversation around election reform,” he said. “We lost credibility. Those were 10 weeks that we can’t take back. January 6th was a pivot point for this country and for this party. And, look, we’ve got four years to win back the White House. We’re not going to do it with a divisive tone.”

Ducan told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd that he had been “disgusted” by the former president’s phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, in which Trump asked him to “find” the needed votes to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in the state.

The Fulton County district attorney in February announced she had opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempts to interfere in the Georgia election.

“We had played for almost 10 weeks with President Trump and his entire apparatus attacking us here for running a fair and legal election,” Duncan said of Trump’s attacks on Georgia officials in the final months of his presidency.

He said he would “stay out of the way of the law and let them do their job” during the investigation into his conduct.

Also during his Sunday appearance, Duncan said he had ruled out a rumored run for US Senate next year.

“My family and I have talked about it, and we’re not going to run for the US Senate seat,” he said. “We’re going to stay focused on being the lieutenant governor here in Georgia. And we’re going to focus hard on trying to rebuild this party and refocus GOP 2.0.”

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‘I don’t think we have identified a problem we are trying to solve’: Georgia GOP officials are rallying behind voting changes despite no evidence of mass fraud

Geoff Duncan
Gov. Brian Kemp, center, with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, left, and Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston.

  • Top Georgia GOP officials are pushing for voting changes, especially with absentee balloting.
  • The state’s lieutenant governor could not fully explain why the changes are necessary.
  • The GOP response is widely seen as a reaction to Biden’s win and the dual Senate losses in January.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

After President Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia last November, as well as Democratic wins by US Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in last month’s runoff elections, Republicans have sought to rebuild their once venerable political coalition in the newly-minted presidential swing state.

Despite GOP control of the Governor’s Mansion and Republican majorities in the state legislature, party leaders, who had to endure months of former President Donald Trump’s spreading debunked claims of mass voter fraud, have zeroed in on absentee ballot restrictions.

With many voters fearful of the spread of COVID-19 at voting precincts, absentee balloting gained popularity across the country last year. 

However, while being interviewed for an opinion article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, top Republicans were unable to provide concrete reasoning for the new voting proposals.

Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who last year expressed concern that the Trump campaign’s election-related legal battles were hurting the party’s “brand of conservatism,” is opposed to ending the state’s no-excuse absentee voting policy, but couldn’t fully explain why new voting rules were needed.

“I think that’s a great question,” he said. “The answer is, I don’t think we have identified a problem we are trying to solve. I think this is an opportunity ‘to update and modernize’ voting in Georgia.”

Duncan wants to require photo identification for voters requesting absentee ballots, a position aligned with state GOP House Speaker David Ralston, after a sustained Trump-driven uproar over the current signature verification process. The lieutenant governor did not have a firm position on eliminating ballot drop boxes, a wish list item for many state Republicans.

Read more: Meet the little-known power player with the ‘hardest job’ on Capitol Hill. She’s shaping Trump’s impeachment trial and Joe Biden’s agenda.

When GOP state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan was asked why he sought to end Georgia’s no-excuse absentee voting policy, he admitted that there was no overarching problem that necessitated the legislation.

“It’s not a problem, as much as a-having-a-sense-of-a-surety that it’s not a right taken lightly,” he said. “This is one of the most sacred rights that we have as a people. It should have some thought that goes into it.”

However, there is little indication that voters are shirking their voting responsibilities in the Peach State.

In the 2021 Senate runoff elections, more than 4.5 million votes were cast, powered by elevated Black turnout across the state, according to the Associated Press. This turnout figure represented almost 90% of Georgia’s high November election turnout, according to CBS News.

Republicans, on the other hand, bore the brunt of Trump’s campaign to overturn Biden’s win.

In the weeks between the November election and Biden’s inauguration, the former president pressured Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to help him overturn Biden’s statewide win of nearly 12,000 votes, which made him the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Last December, Trump asked Kemp to call a special session in an attempt to overturn the election results by having the legislature install pro-Trump presidential electors.

Kemp balked at the request.

In January 2021, Trump called Raffensperger in a roughly hourlong conversation to ask him to “find” the votes needed to overcome Biden’s victory.

The secretary of state refused to follow Trump’s orders.

On February 10, Fulton County prosecutors launched a criminal investigation into the former president’s pressure campaign to invalidate his statewide loss. The news came only a day after Raffensperger announced that his office would begin an administrative inquiry into Trump’s phone call.

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‘It’s time for us to move on’: Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan fears that Trump’s election legal battles are hurting the GOP’s image

Geoff Duncan
Georgia Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, a Republican, speaks on the floor of the State Senate.

  • Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump’s continued legal challenges against the election results could tarnish the party’s image.
  • “It’s time for us as a country and as a party to move on,” he said. “I’m very, very worried that this affects our brand of conservatism.”
  • The chasm between Duncan and the GOP blew open when Trump slammed the lieutenant governor on Twitter, calling him “a RINO Never Trumper” who was elected “by falsely claiming to be ‘pro-Trump.'”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, on Tuesday said that the President Donald Trump’s legal battles contesting the results of the 2020 election could hurt the party’s “brand of conservatism.”

During a CNN interview with host Erin Burnett, Duncan pleaded with the party to concentrate on winning the state’s Senate runoff elections in January instead of devoting resources to the Trump campaign’s string of unsuccessful lawsuits to overturn the election results. 

Duncan, who was elected to his position in 2018, has accepted President-elect Joe Biden’s win, while most of his party has either chosen to remain silent on the matter or deny the Democrat’s victory. The lieutenant governor has rejected efforts to both prove fealty to Trump and spread debunked claims of voter fraud.

“It’s time for us as a country and as a party to move on,” Duncan said. “I’m very, very worried that this affects our brand of conservatism. The Republican Party, we’ve got good days in front of us. We need to keep looking for opportunities to improve.”

In a direct criticism of Trump’s online behavior, he added: “We need to communicate better. Two hundred and eighty characters on Twitter is not enough for us to be able to communicate to America, and especially those folks that maybe aren’t with us on every single issue.”

The disconnect between Duncan and most of the GOP was thrust into the national spotlight when the president on Monday attacked the lieutenant governor on Twitter, calling him “a RINO Never Trumper who got himself elected as LG by falsely claiming to be ‘pro-Trump'” and “too dumb or corrupt to recognize massive evidence of fraud.”

A “RINO” is a pejorative term generally reserved for members of the GOP who aren’t considered to be true conservatives.

Duncan responded by praising Trump’s time in office and then acknowledging his election loss. He also pushed for the GOP to mobilize for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who face stiff challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively, in two key races that will determine control of the Senate.

“Thank you for 4 years of conservative leadership @realdonaldtrump,” he tweeted. “You’ve proven that a business minded outsider can be effective in DC and your legacy will last a generation in our Supreme Ct. Let’s agree that re-electing Kelly Loeffler & David Perdue should be your top priority.”

Despite the litany of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign, including multiple legal challenges in Georgia, the cases have overwhelmingly gone nowhere

Trump has repeatedly slammed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for unproven allegations of voter irregularities in the state, something that the Republican leader has rejected. On December 5, the president spoke with Kemp by phone to persuade the governor to call a special legislative session to overturn the election results and install pro-Trump Electoral College electors.

Kemp declined to take up Trump’s demand.

On December 8, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a frequent Trump target, recertified the state’s election results showing that Biden defeated Trump in the presidential race. The president-elect won the state by a little over 12,000 votes, edging out Trump in the longtime GOP stronghold and securing its 16 electoral votes.

“Unfortunately, the guy I voted for did not win,” Duncan told CNN. “The person I campaigned for did not win.”

But, he added, “It’s time for us to move on.”

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