Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan outlines his agenda for the 2020 legislative session at the State Capitol on January 13, 2020.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan outlines his agenda for the 2020 legislative session at the State Capitol on January 13, 2020.

Credit: Beau Evans/Capitol Beat

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced Monday he will not seek reelection to another term as Georgia’s second-highest state elected official, opening the door for a fierce 2022 campaign between Republicans and Democrats vying to replace him.

In a statement, Duncan — a Republican — said he plans to create a political organization called “GOP 2.0” aimed at “healing and rebuilding” the national Republican Party amid the fallout from former President Donald Trump’s continued claims of voter fraud in the 2020 elections.

Duncan’s pivot away from Trump via public statements and television news appearances since the November 2020 general election pitted him against the former president and his allies who continue to hold a large influence over the state’s Republican Party and conservative voters in Georgia.

“The national events of the last six months have deeply affected my family in ways I would have never imagined when I first asked for their support to run for lieutenant governor in 2017,” Duncan said Monday.

“Through all of the highs and lows of the last six months, they have never left my side and are once again united behind me in my pursuit of a better way forward for our conservative party — a GOP 2.0.”

Duncan, a former health care executive and Minor League Baseball player who served three terms in the Georgia House of Representatives, has focused much of his tenure as lieutenant governor pushing for investments and policy initiatives to position Georgia as what he calls “the technology capital of the East Coast.”

He has presided over three legislative sessions as head of the Georgia Senate since winning election over Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico by a narrow margin in 2018. Duncan said Monday he plans to preside over redistricting efforts in the Senate later this year as well as during the 2022 legislative session.

Duncan’s absence from campaigning next year will likely prompt stiff competition among Republicans during the 2022 primary. Several Democratic contenders have already thrown their hats in the ring including state Reps. Erick Allen of Smyrna and Derrick Jackson of Tyrone.

State Democratic leaders pounced on Duncan’s announcement Monday to bash Georgia Republicans as too tied to Trump, whose insistence that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent without solid proof fueled violent rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Donald Trump and the far-right have completely taken over the Republican Party with extreme rhetoric, racist voter suppression policies and a barrage of blatant lies about our presidential election,” said Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

“While Republicans try in vain to salvage their broken party, Democrats are focused on electing new, forward-looking leadership to the lieutenant governor’s office and [other] statewide offices in 2022.”

Democrats have already rolled out a roster of candidates for statewide offices beyond lieutenant governor including attorney general, secretary of state, insurance and labor. Democratic 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has not yet announced whether she will launch a rematch against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Capitol Beat News Service.