Georgia's former lieutenant governor backs Biden in high-profile defection from GOP

Not long ago, Geoff Duncan was seen as a rising star in GOP politics. Now, the former Georgia lieutenant governor says he’s voting for President Joe Biden this year, and he’s urging other Republicans to do so, too.

“Unlike Trump, I’ve belonged to the GOP my entire life. This November, I am voting for a decent person I disagree with on policy over a criminal defendant without a moral compass,” Duncan wrote in an op-ed published Monday in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia was a breaking point for Duncan, who, along with other state GOP officials, like Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, defended the integrity of the state’s elections and condemned Trump’s actions and rhetoric as false and undemocratic.

The break with Trump led Duncan to decide not to run for re-election in 2022 and to write a book about re-inventing the Republican Party without Trump.

Duncan, who is also a former professional baseball player and state lawmaker, was recruited to join the centrist third-party presidential ticket backed by No Labels this year, but he ultimately declined.

The deep-pocketed Washington group announced in March that it was abandoning its 2024 presidential ambitions after it was unable to find a credible candidate. Duncan appears to be closest it came to securing a candidate for the top of the ticket, though it kept much of its work private.

Duncan has said in interviews that he seriously considered the No Labels ticket but that he was not confident that any third-party candidate would have a real path to victory in November and that he worried he would merely be a spoiler.

With Trump now back atop the GOP and on track to be its nominee in November, Duncan criticized other erstwhile GOP skeptics of Trump for falling in line behind him instead of backing Biden.

“[T]he GOP will never rebuild until we move on from the Trump era, leaving conservative (but not angry) Republicans like me no choice but to pull the lever for Biden,” Duncan wrote in his op-ed.

“The alternative is another term of Trump, a man who has disqualified himself through his conduct and his character,” he continued. “The headlines are ablaze with his hush-money trial over allegations of improper record-keeping for payments to conceal an affair with an adult-film star.”

Duncan went on to write that he disagrees with Biden’s policies and that Republicans who support Biden should simultaneously “work to elect GOP congressional majorities to block his second-term legislative agenda and provide a check and balance.”

In a statement, Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer said the campaign “is actively reaching out to Americans like Geoff Duncan, who put their country and concern for protecting our democracy before blind loyalty to Donald Trump and his self-centered campaign of revenge and retribution.”

Singer said the campaign welcomes Duncan and all others who share the value they place on democracy, the rule of law and public decency, adding that they “have a place in President Biden’s vision for America.”

Anti-Trump Republicans were a key piece of the coalition that helped Biden oust Trump in 2020, when Democrats highlighting the support of GOP officials in ads and speaking slots at the Democratic National Convention.

But some of those pro-Biden Republicans said Biden’s outreach since then has been lackluster, warning that his campaign needs to do more to win over so-called soft Republicans and GOP-leaning independents.

Democrats closely watching this year’s GOP primaries also saw potential Biden supporters among the segment of voters won by former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, a moderate and Trump critic.

Biden’s team has yet to make a major public effort aimed specifically at those voters. Democrats say the time for such a move would come closer to the election. In the meantime, they say they believe Trump and his campaign will continue to denigrate Haley and her supporters, rather than try to win them back.

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