Politico

‘Very worried that this affects our brand’: Georgia Lt. Gov. tells GOP to accept election results


Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor expressed concern on Tuesday that the continued legal challenges against the 2020 elections and ensuing internecine brawls could backfire and damage his party’s image.

Speaking with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan urged Republicans to focus their attention on winning the state’s two Senate seats — currently up for a run-off election next month — rather than pursuing the quixotic legal challenges against the 2020 elections spearheaded by President Donald Trump and his allies. As a Republican official who has accepted President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 elections, Duncan is caught in the middle of a widening GOP schism between the president’s ardent supporters and the establishment Republicans more closely aligned with the country’s electoral norms.

“I’m very, very worried that this affects our brand of conservatism,” Duncan said of the party infighting and legal challenges. “The Republican Party. We got good days in front of us. We need to look for opportunities to improve.”

Trump and his allies have refused to acknowledge Biden’s electoral victory this year, leveling a number of baseless theories of election malfeasance in an effort to toss the election results. But those efforts have largely gone nowhere, with courts throwing their legal challenges out the window and election officials of both parties rejecting the allegations.

Just this week, Georgia’s Republican election officials affirmed for the third time that Biden was the winner in the state, dismissing allegations of election fraud. And with the federal “safe harbor” deadline — the date marked for states to have settled all election disputes — passing on Tuesday, the president’s legal challenges seem ever more slim.

The Supreme Court, which now boasts three Trump appointees, also rejected on Tuesday an attempt by Republicans to decertify election results in Pennsylvania, which Biden flipped blue last month. That decision further underscored that “it’s time to move one,” Duncan said.

“Unfortunately, the guy I voted for, Erin, did not win,” he said on CNN. “The person I campaigned for did not win. It’s time for us as a country and as a party to move on.”

Duncan added that the party should instead focus on keeping his state’s senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, in Congress. Both face runoffs on Jan. 5, and with the state flipping blue in this year’s presidential election and the two Senate seats determining which party has control of the upper chamber for the next two years, the elections have captured the national attention. Earlier in the evening, Loeffler told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum that losing this election would mean “we can lose the country.”

Duncan’s commitment to the results of the elections has already prompted anger from Trump. Late Monday night, the president tweeted a slew of insults against the lieutenant governor, calling him a “RINO Never Trumper who got himself elected as LG by falsely claiming to be ‘pro-Trump.’”

“Too dumb or corrupt to recognize massive evidence of fraud in GA & should be replaced! We need every great Georgian to call him out!” Trump tweeted.

And while Georgia’s Republican secretary of state and governor both share Duncan’s view on the election, the two senators he’s pushing to get elected do not.

Duncan on Tuesday was cognizant of what hinged on the runoffs for the party, declining to antagonize the president on air and instead reiterating their common goal of getting Loeffler and Perdue reelected. He dismissed the Trump tweet’s incendiary language and reiterated that he supported the president’s policies as “spot-on.”

Duncan noted the president’s popularity among the state’s Republican base and celebrated Trump’s visit to the state over the weekend to campaign for Loeffler and Perdue.

“Any time a sitting president comes and campaigns for two senators, I think that is a great asset,” Duncan told Burnett.

Just as he was finishing his remarks, Duncan slipped in a short, final plea for the president not to spread misinformation as they campaign for Loeffler and Perdue, saying that “there’s no possible way that helps them win reelection.”

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