Georgia lt. gov hopefuls make case for voters’ support



Candidates vying to be Georgia’s next lieutenant governor traded barbs Tuesday during a political debate where hopefuls spoke on a range of topics, including the regulation of abortion and the results of the 2020 presidential election.

During the Atlanta Press Club’s Loudermilk-Young Debate Series, Republican nominee Burt Jones answered questions about involvement in a phony slate of GOP presidential electors designed to help Donald Trump’s failed effort to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Jones, a state senator who is backed by Trump, said he believed the actions taken after the election were appropriate, including calling for a special session of the Legislature to investigate the election results and signing a brief in support of a lawsuit brought by Texas officials against Georgia and other states.

“We had court cases that were going on at the time, and it was a procedural move that we knew that we were not going to move forward (with) if those court cases did not move forward,” Jones said. “But, you know, as I’ve traveled around the state, nobody’s talking to me about 2020 now. What they are talking to me about is gas prices, 40-year-high inflation, the crime that’s going on and what’s going on in our education system.”

Jones’ Democratic opponent, Charlie Bailey, has made criticism of the Republican’s questioning of the results of the 2020 election a hallmark of his campaign strategy.

Bailey, an attorney who lives in Atlanta, said if Jones and the other GOP electors were successful, the Republican would have overturned the will of millions of Georgians who voted for Biden. In a press conference after the debate, Bailey said he disagreed with Jones’ assertion that voters have moved on from the aftermath of the 2020 election.

“They don’t think politicians ought to be deciding who wins elections,” Bailey said. “They think voters ought to. So, I think he’s wrong, and I think he’s about to find out how wrong he is here in three weeks.”

Jones also relaxed his stance from the primary debate where he said that he supported a ban on abortion without any exceptions. On Tuesday, Jones said he supported Georgia’s 2019 law that went into effect this summer.

That law bans most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, which is typically at about six weeks into pregnancy and before many know they are pregnant. Later abortions are allowed if the life of the woman is in danger, in instances of “medical futility” — when a fetus would not be able to survive after birth — or in instances of rape or incest when the incident has been reported to the police.

Jones said he didn’t think the Legislature should further restrict the procedure.

“I’m good with us moving forward ... and working on the foster care system, access to critical health facilities and adoption as well,” he said.

Bailey said if elected, he would push to write into law the rights given by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision on Roe v. Wade, which allowed abortions up until the fetus could survive on its own.

Libertarian candidate Ryan Graham said there shouldn’t be any laws concerning abortion.

“I believe in the sovereignty of women over their own bodies, and I don’t think that politicians should have control over their bodies,” he said. “Prohibition doesn’t work, and what you end up doing is you make it unsafe and you don’t stop it from happening.”

The three men are vying for the office currently held by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who is not seeking reelection.

Jones has led in the polls throughout the general election. A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Georgia News Collaborative poll found that Jones, a fuel executive from Jackson, received support from more than 44% of those polled. Bailey received support from about 39% of those polled. Graham, a Libertarian and Atlanta resident who works in software development, got the support of 4% of those polled.

The rest of the people polled said they were undecided.

Watch a replay of the debate