Democrats see Georgia as model for success across South
Georgia lieutenant governor says GOP risks 'alienating voters' with voter fraud claims
Georgia's Republican lieutenant governor on Monday warned that President Trump and the GOP risk "alienating voters" ahead of the state's January Senate runoff elections and beyond with false claims of voter fraud and election malfeasance.
"I do think the president and Republicans in general need to refine their approach to how we handle this post-election process," Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said on CNN.
"I think there's two parts that really are concerning to me," he continued. "One is the short term in the Senate election in making sure we don't alienate any voters that we need to show up for Sen. [Kelly] Loeffler and Sen. [David] Perdue. And I think secondly, we run the risk of alienating voters longer term."
Duncan's remarks come amid growing concern among some Republicans that Trump and his allies' claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, as well as the president's continued attacks on top GOP officials in Georgia, could serve to discourage and depress Republican turnout in the state's Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.
The runoffs will determine the balance of power in the upper chamber in the next Congress. Republicans are currently set to enter 2021 with a 50-48 majority in the Senate. With President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris poised to take the White House in January, Democrats will have to pick off both Loeffler (R) and Perdue (R) to win a controlling vote in the chamber.
Georgia emerged as the center of the political world last month after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate in nearly three decades to win the state. But Trump has repeatedly refused to concede the election and has made baseless claims of voter fraud to argue that the election results should be overturned.
A recount of the vote in Georgia requested by Trump's campaign is expected to be completed on Wednesday. It's highly unlikely, however, that the recount will dramatically alter previous vote tallies.
The president has taken particular aim at Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, accusing them of mishandling the 2020 election. On Sunday, he said he was "ashamed" to have endorsed Kemp in the state's 2018 gubernatorial race.
Duncan defended Kemp and Raffensperger, calling the former "steadfast and strong" in the face of multiple challenges and the latter "a rock star conservative [who] comes to work everyday and does the right thing."
Duncan has previously rebuffed claims of widespread voter fraud. But his remarks to CNN's Erin Burnett on Monday served as a more direct criticism of Trump, who has called on Kemp to overturn the certification of Georgia's election results, despite the governor not having the authority to do so.
"It troubles me that some folks are willing, just for the sole intent of flipping an election, of spreading misinformation," Duncan said. "I think we're better than this. My hope is that we move past this here in Georgia and as a country. Certainly there are some better days ahead of us than what we're in right now."