The GOP Just Forced Another Trump Critic Out of Office

Georgia Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan is the latest Republican to have his career disrupted by a refusal to accept Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
May 17, 2021, 5:45pm
Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Another one bites the dust.

Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, announced he wouldn’t seek reelection on Monday afternoon, making him the latest victim of the GOP purge of officials who’ve pushed back against President Trump’s election lies.

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Duncan said in his statement that he plans to serve out the remainder of his term, but will spend more of his energy on a new group called GOP 2.0 that will focus on “healing and rebuilding a Republican Party that is damaged but not destroyed.”

He becomes the latest staunch Republican whose career has been disrupted because he refuses to accept Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Just last week, House Republicans tossed Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney out of GOP leadership for the sin of standing up to Trump. Many of the Republicans who fought back against Trump’s 2020 lies are either already retiring or thinking about it, with most of the remainder facing tough primary challenges. That includes Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who faces an uphill battle to reelection against a Trump lackey because he refused to bolster Trump’s lies about 2020 or help him try to overturn the results.

Duncan’s move isn’t a surprise. He’s publicly signaled that he might not run for reelection, while making clear how uncomfortable he has been with his party’s direction. He forcefully pushed back against Trump’s ongoing lies that he really won Georgia in the 2020 election, standing against a state party that largely believes Trump’s falsehoods, and refused to preside over the Georgia senate when it passed its voter suppression law last month. 

“Any narrative from a Republican that the election was stolen, that it was a rigged election, is wasted energy. And it only continues to make the pathway to winning for Democrats even easier,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

Those apostasies got him censured by the state Republican Party earlier this year, and he was almost certain to face an uphill primary battle for reelection. The next GOP candidate for lieutenant governor in the newly minted swing state will likely be someone who parrots Trump’s election lies.

Duncan declared in his statement that he believes that “it always feels coldest right before the sun rises,” predicted things would get better, and pledged to do everything in his power to steer his party back towards reason and decency.

But his move is the latest evidence that in the modern GOP, to borrow a term from fellow Trump-critic former Sen. John McCain, “it’s always darkest before it goes totally black.”