GOP's 'short term sugar high in Donald Trump' won't last, Georgia's Republican lt. gov. predicts

Duncan spotlights that other Republicans have quietly come up to him and thanked him for “doing the right thing” and tell him “this means a lot for this country, this means a lot for this party.”

Georgia’s lieutenant governor made his comments in a national exclusive interview with Fox News and during an address to an audience at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on Tuesday, where Duncan kicked off the inaugural event to sell “GOP 2.0,” the idea behind his new book and his evolving push to fix a Republican Party that he says has been damaged by former President Trump.

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“It’s a better pathway forward for our conservative party,” Duncan emphasized. “If done right, GOP 2.0 is going to be a safe place to call home for commonsense conservatives. It’s going to allow us to win on the policy front, but it’s also going to allow us to win on the ballot boxes.”

Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan of Georgia holds the inaugural event for his GOP 2.0 initiative at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, in Goffstown, N.H. on Oct. 19, 2021.

Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan of Georgia holds the inaugural event for his GOP 2.0 initiative at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, in Goffstown, N.H. on Oct. 19, 2021. (Fox News )

Duncan stressed that “our job now as Republicans is to harness all of the good that we’ve done over the years, all of those great policy positions that make sense for a majority of Americans, and then self-evaluate the things that we need to improve. What can we do better.”

“With just a few course adjustments…I believe the GOP can get back on track,” Duncan predicted.

The former college baseball star and minor league pitcher turned heath care executive – who served as a Georgia state lawmaker before his 2018 election as lieutenant governor – grabbed national attention in the weeks after the 2020 election for speaking out against then-President Trump’s unfounded claims of “massive voter fraud.” 

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“I was doing all the due diligence that I could to figure out if there was any systemic fraud in that election, and the answer every day was no. We never could find any fraud. We could never find any secret tidbit that could help us find out if the election was rigged, because it wasn’t,” Duncan said.

Georgia was one of six states where now-President Biden narrowly edged Trump, helping him win the White House. Duncan, along with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, resisted Trump’s requests to overturn the election results in the Peach State.

“I was very aggressive early and often in speaking against the fraud,” Duncan said. 

But his public push back in national interviews against Trump led to threats against him and his wife, which necessitated protection by state troopers.

The path Duncan is currently taking is perilous, because nine months removed from the White House, Trump remains very popular with most Republican voters and extremely influential with GOP politicians. The former president continues to play a kingmaker’s role in party politics and teases another presidential run in 2024. But he also continues to re-litigate his 2020 loss to Biden and pushes for election audits in numerous states across the country.

“The reality is that Donald Trump has a zero percent chance of ever being the president of the United States again,”  Duncan argued. “It will continue to become more and more obvious to folks across the country that this is an unwinnable strategy, this divisive rancor, this divisive tone that alienates is not a winnable strategy.”

Duncan predicted that “there’s not going to be this overwhelming groundswell for election fraud and conspiracy theories and divisive rancor. Republicans are going to wake up across this country and just simply want to win. And I think GOP 2.0 can do that. What we’re seeing is a short term sugar high in Donald Trump. And I guarantee you beyond a shadow of doubt that Trump fever is going to break.”

“Certainly we hope that this happens before 2024,” Duncan stressed. And he said that “GOP 2.0 wants to be there to pick up the pieces, to really take that leadership role in how we move forward, how we truly, genuinely go back to inspiring a nation instead of talking down to a nation.”

While Duncan looks to a post-Trump GOP, there’s no let up right now in the former president’s immense clout over the Republican Party. Trump continues to headline major party functions and fundraisers, and at his large rally in Iowa earlier this month, the top leaders of that state’s GOP establishment all attended and spoke in support of the former president.

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Duncan announced in May that he wouldn’t run for reelection next year. As Kemp and Raffensperger seek reelection in 2022, they’re facing Trump’s wrath. The former president has already endorsed a primary challenger against Raffensperger and has been seeking to recruit a candidate to take on Kemp. But Duncan said that the prospect of being on Trump’s most wanted list wasn’t his reason for not seeking a second term.

“I want to have a much needed conversation with America and if I’m running for reelection and trying to do the things I need to do to win a primary and a general in Georgia, I can’t have that conversation that needs to happen now,” he explained.

The location of Duncan’s kickoff event for GOP 2.0 raised eyebrows, as the New Hampshire Institute of Politics is a must stop for White House hopefuls in the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the presidential nominating calendar. Duncan touted that “we intend for GOP 2.0 to play a significant role in shaping who the Republican nominee is.”

But would the list of potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders include Duncan?

“There’s a lot of work to be done between here and 2024 to heal and rebuild the party. If I look at my to-do list every day, it’s a mile long and there a lot of qualified people that I think are going to come to our aid in GOP 2.0 and try to pull together,” he told Fox News.

Asked again about any potential national ambitions, Duncan didn’t say no.

Instead, he teased that “I certainly look forward to being back in New Hampshire in the coming years” and added that “it certainly would be an honor to be in that conversation, but right now there’s too much work.”

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