Former state Rep. Geoff Duncan and state Sen. David Shafer are in the Republican runoff for lieutenant governor. Screen shot

GOP Lt. Gov. hopefuls make last-minute pitch to group before runoff

The runoff candidates for lieutenant governor made one of their last appeals to Republican voters Saturday during a forum hosted by a conservative Christian group in Lawrenceville.

Timothy Head, executive director of Faith and Freedom Coalition, said he recognized that most Republican candidates hold similar views on issues facing the state, but the forum gave voters an opportunity to look a little closer before Tuesday’s runoff election.

Former state Rep. Geoff Duncan and state Sen. David Shafer on Saturday hit familiar campaign talking points, with Shafer pointing to his 16-year resume in the Senate and Duncan highlighting his outsider, underdog status in the race.

“I urge you to look at the endorsements that we’ve received,” Shafer said, listing support he’s received from organizations including the National Rifle Association and Georgia Right to Life, as well as hundreds of current and former lawmakers and other politicians. “You know what that means when those groups support me over my opponent.”

Duncan told the crowd of about 100 attending Saturday’s forum he’s not concerned about high-profile endorsements.

“It’s not popular to endorse the outsider,” he said. “If we’re going to accomplish policy over politics, we’re going to have to look a lot more like Christ did.”

Many voters said they entered the forum held at North Metro Baptist Church knowing who they planned to support on Tuesday, though they said they were keeping an open mind.

“I didn’t really learn anything new,” said Sue Copeley, a Grayson resident. “I was impressed with Geoff Duncan as a person. But I still think Senator Shafer is better for the job.”

Lawrenceville resident David Alexander said he felt similarly. He said he supported Shafer in the May primary and expected he would do the same on Tuesday.

“I could support either candidate,” Alexander said. “I’m a Republican, so most of the time all of the Republican candidates have similar views to mine. That makes it tougher in the primary.”

A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News poll showed Shafer with a slight lead over Duncan.

According to the poll, 34.4 percent of likely Republican voters said they would vote for Shafer, compared with 31.4 percent who said they would vote for Duncan. About one-third of voters said they were undecided.

The winner in Tuesday’s runoff will face Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico in November.

Most candidates running in the Republican runoff elections for governor and secretary of state also addressed forum attendees.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for governor, entered the forum trailed by volunteers carrying a large Make America Great Again flag — playing up his endorsement from President Trump earlier this week.

His opponent, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, was in another part of the state and did not appear at the forum. Instead, his wife, Nita Cagle, and and state Sen. Renee Unterman, spoke on his behalf.

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