Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said Sunday that the “mountains of misinformation” about the election that President Donald Trump is spreading, most recently in his remarks at a rally in the state Saturday night, could hurt GOP chances in upcoming Senate runoff races.
While campaigning for Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Valdosta, Georgia, Trump issued a litany of grievances about the election he lost to Joe Biden. Trump also lambasted Republican Gov. Brian Kemp hours after he pressured Kemp to convene a special election and convince state legislators to overturn the President-elect’s win in the state.
“I worry that this continuous you know fanning of the flames around misinformation puts us in a negative position with regards to the January 5 runoff,” Duncan told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “The mountains of misinformation are not helping the process, they’re only hurting it. And Jake, I worry we are handing off a playbook to the Democrats for January 5 and certainly I can’t think of a worse playbook to hand off over the last four or five weeks to the Democrats.”
Despite the pummeling from their party leader, Georgia GOP election officials have pushed back against Trump’s claims of fraud in the state.
Duncan told Tapper on Sunday that Trump’s attacks on Kemp and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “disgusts” him and spoke about the threats elected officials in the Peach State have received.
“All of us in this position have got increased security around us and our families and it’s not American, it’s not what democracy is all about but it’s reality right now. So we are going to continue to do our jobs. Gov. Kemp, Brad Raffensperger and myself all three voted and campaigned for the President but, unfortunately, he didn’t win the state of Georgia but it doesn’t change our job descriptions,” Duncan said.
Biden won Georgia by more than 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the Peach State in nearly three decades. Kemp certified the results of Biden’s victory on November 20, following a statewide audit, which included a hand-count of the nearly 5 million ballots cast in the election.
At the Georgia rally, the President spent the majority of the early portion of his remarks falsely claiming he won the election, taking shots at Kemp and saying the Senate runoffs will be rigged.
Gabriel Sterling, the voting systems implementation manager for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, called Trump’s statements at the rally “false.”
“They’re misinformation, they’re stoking anger and fear among his supporters,” Sterling, a Republican, said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday. “And hell I voted for him. The situation is getting much worse.”
As CNN previously reported, Republicans had been concerned that Trump could depress voter turnout among his base in the state’s crucial runoffs if he continued to rail against Georgia’s election system and attack Kemp – exactly what Trump did at the Saturday night rally.
All eyes are on Georgia’s two January runoff elections that will determine the balance of power in the Senate, as two of the candidates – Loeffler and her Democratic opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock – are set to debate each other Sunday evening.
Ahead of the runoffs, a group of prominent former Georgia Republican officials, including former Gov. Nathan Deal and former Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, released a statement last week urging the party to unify, and shift their attention to the challenge of protecting their Senate majority.
“Please separate the two,” Eric Johnson, a Trump supporter and former state Senate Republican leader who signed the statement, told CNN.
“Looking into potential problems with the election is important, but we need to leave that (to) the lawyers,” said Johnson. “The grassroots activists need to focus on the runoff.”
‘This election was fair’
The lieutenant governor said he was proud of the election process, acknowledging the process was not “perfect” but the election was fair.
“As the lieutenant governor and as a Georgian, I’m proud that we’re able to look up after three recounts and watch and be able to see that this election was fair. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. I don’t know if any election was perfect in the history of this country but certainly it’s only been nominal changes since we have had three recount (s),” Duncan said.
Duncan is part of a group of GOP officials who – though they support Trump – in recent days have publicly said Biden will be the 46th president next month.
“I voted for President Trump, I campaigned for him and unfortunately he did not win the state of Georgia, ” Duncan said. “So, yeah, you know, on January 20, Joe Biden is going to be sworn in as the 46th President. The Constitution is still in place. This is still America.”
This story has been updated with additional details.