Republican lieutenant governor candidates trade barbs in runoff debate


The candidates in the Republican runoff for lieutenant governor ramped up their pointed critiques of each other during a testy debate Thursday, each often scoffing and shaking his head as his opponent spoke.

Former state Rep. Geoff Duncan doubled down on comments he began making last week that accuse his opponent, state Sen. David Shafer, of receiving nearly $100,000 worth of stock in a company for “personal reasons.” Shafer called the allegation false and said he never received free shares.

After directing debate viewers to a website he launched earlier this week to rebut the accusations, Shafer accused Duncan of using false allegations to distract voters from what’s important in the race.

“I think that we as strong conservatives ought to be fighting against the radical left agenda and not badmouthing each other,” he said. “I’ve been disappointed by the entire tenor of your campaign, which I believe has been completely dishonest and has diverted attention from what I believe are the real issues that face Georgia.”

Duncan said Shafer’s long political resume, including serving the past 16 years in the state Senate, has led to institutional thinking.

“(We’re talking) about 30 years in politics versus five years in the General Assembly,” he said. “What I think I bring to this is a perspective. It’s not just a tag line.”

Shafer, who said he was proud of the work he’s done as an elected official, pushed back on Duncan’s “outsider” campaign.

“We’re two candidates who both have extensive, years-long records under the Gold Dome,” the Duluth Republican said. “I would ask everyone at home to look carefully at the records that we’ve compiled while we were serving under that Gold Dome.”

Shafer also pointed to the hundreds of endorsements that he’s accumulated as a guiding force for Republican voters, including the National Rifle Association, Georgia Right to Life and 280 current and former members of the Georgia General Assembly.

Duncan, a Cumming Republican, said that if the election were held five or 10 years ago, long lists of endorsements and several years in public office would weigh more when voters head to the polls.

“(Before), voters really only cared about who was the next person in line or who had all the political endorsements,” he said, gesturing toward Shafer. “But now, voters don’t care about that. They care about electing the right person for the job.”

The winner in the July 24 runoff will face Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico in the November election.

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