Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, R., lamented Wednesday what he suggested was the Republican Party’s missed opportunity, saying the GOP would have had a better showing during Tuesday’s midterm elections if better candidates were selected.
Duncan said he doesn’t “respect” Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who will go into a runoff election with Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga, after neither candidate reached 50 percent of the vote. Gov. Brian Kemp, R., easily beat Democrat Stacey Abrams in his re-election bid, but Walker ran far behind him and was behind Warnock in the popular vote as of Wednesday afternoon.
“A lot of Republicans like me are waking up this morning and thinking, ‘What could have been? What could have been if we had picked a better candidate that could have won with a margin like Brian Kemp, that would have been able to put real leadership on display,’” Duncan said Wednesday on CNN.
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He said a “better” candidate could have put real ideas on display and “win the hearts and minds of Georgians and get the state back to being fully red.”
Walker, a star running back at the University of Georgia who won the Heisman Trophy, cruised to the Republican nomination to challenge Warnock. He ran after months of support and encouragement by former President Trump, his longtime friend. Meanwhile, Trump supported former Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., in a primary challenge to Kemp after the governor didn’t back Trump’s claims of election fraud in Georgia in 2020.
Kemp easily dispatched Perdue, however, and never appeared seriously threatened by Abrams in the general election.
Duncan said a disappointing showing for Trump-endorsed candidates means it’s time for the GOP to move forward.
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“It sends a message to the country, along with some other states, that this is truly a pivot point for the Republican Party. This is a time that, no doubt, Donald Trump is in the rearview mirror, and it’s time to move on with the party,” he said. “It turns out Mitch McConnell knew what he was talking about with candidate quality. We’ve seen it in Georgia and other places around the country where if they would have just woke up 12 months ago and stopped taking his lead, and took the lead of what real Republicans, real conservative policies meant and mattered, we’d be in a different place.”
The runoff election will take place on Dec. 6. Trump-backed Republican Burt Jones was elected on Tuesday as the next lieutenant governor to replace Duncan, who said last year he wouldn’t seek a second term. Duncan was harshly critical of Trump’s stolen election claims in the state.
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Trump-supported Doug Mastriano was dispatched handily by Pennsylvania Democrat Josh Shapiro in the state’s governor’s race, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, another Trump candidate, lost to Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania’s closely watched Senate race.
Republicans also lost the New Hampshire Senate race with Don Bolduc unable to oust Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and prominent Trump supporters in the House, like Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, were defeated on Tuesday.
In one bright spot for Trump, Republican JD Vance defeated Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, in Ohio’s Senate race. Trump supporters touted the party’s wins in Florida and Ohio, formerly swing states which Trump won in both 2016 and 2020, as proof he helped make them into red states.
Fox News’ Thomas Phippen and David Rutz contributed to this report.
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