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Third Party Considering Running Former GOP Lt. Governor Against Trump and Biden: Reports

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Well, it’s certainly not the splash they were hoping to make — but it is something.

According to reports from The Wall Street Journal and Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday afternoon, the centrist No Labels group is looking to put a former GOP lieutenant governor of a swing state — Georgia — atop a so-called “unity” ticket.

While Geoff Duncan is hardly the big name many in the independent group were hoping for, he has 1) held elected office 2) in a state that could affect the election, 3) is an anti-Trump Republican and 4) has testified against the former president in the Fulton County, Georgia, trial being headed by embattled prosecutor Fani Willis.

“Duncan, a Republican, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and his allies since the 2020 election, penned a book detailing his vision of a ‘GOP 2.0’ that moves beyond divisive rhetoric,” the Journal-Constitution reported.

“He also is a frequent contrarian within his party. He refused to endorse Herschel Walker, the Trump-backed Senate nominee, in 2022 and also wouldn’t support the campaign of his successor, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones. Both were Trump loyalists.”

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The rumors came after the group’s 800 delegates voted in a virtual meeting Friday to field a candidate, despite rebuffs from many big names.

“Some prominent politicians who had been on the group’s radar — including Republicans Nikki Haley and Larry Hogan and Democrat Joe Manchin — have ruled out making presidential bids,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

“If No Labels can’t succeed in recruiting sufficiently high-profile candidates, that could drain enthusiasm among delegates for moving forward with an independent ticket, according to people familiar with its discussions.”

Which makes Duncan’s name being floated a bit of a letdown. Not only was Duncan not their first choice, but he wasn’t even the first choice among Georgia Republicans; Gov. Brian Kemp was reportedly approached and declined.

Would a Duncan run take necessary votes from Trump?

Neither Duncan nor No Labels’ chief strategist would confirm the move.

“No Labels hasn’t yet chosen a ticket and any names floating around are being put out there by someone else,” Ryan Clancy said in a statement.

On one hand, the news isn’t the worst if neither Trump nor President Joe Biden has to face a strong challenge from someone like Haley or Manchin. On the other hand, unlike other third-party challengers, this one does more damage to Trump than it does to Biden.

With the Republican nomination all but clinched for Trump, Duncan could provide a disruption in a state where Trump has had recent trouble. He lost the state in 2020 by a slim margin to Biden and then, because of his focus on the legal challenge to the results, was blamed by many in the party for its loss in two Senate runoffs; victory in either one would have preserved a Republican majority in the upper chamber.

In 2022, Trump’s preferred candidate for governor — former Sen. David Perdue — lost in the primary to incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp. Trump’s endorsed candidate for the Senate seat held by Raphael Warnock did get through — and he got blamed for that as well, as Herschel Walker was the one conspicuous statewide loss the Republicans suffered in Georgia during the 2022 midterms.

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In the RealClearPolitics polling average, Trump held a 6.5 percent lead over Joe Biden in Georgia as of Saturday morning. With independent/third-party candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein added to the mix, that lead broadened to 8 points.

However, Duncan would be the first candidate to steal votes from Trump (at least in Georgia) to enter the race. Furthermore, No Labels had previously worried Democrats and leftist commentators, who feared that a centrist candidate like Haley, Manchin or their ilk would steal votes from Joe Biden. Duncan is unlikely to change many minds on the right, but he’s on the radar of at least some Republicans and virtually no Democrats.

And yet, anti-Trump Republicans continue to fret about any choice other than Joe Biden.

“We’ve said it for months: A vote for No Labels is a vote for Donald Trump,” said Reed Galen, one of the co-founders of disgraced anti-Trump Republican group The Lincoln Project.

“The only way to stop the disintegration of democracy is to vote to re-elect President Biden.”

Yes, now as always, the only way to stop democracy from eroding is to cast your vote for only one person. But doesn’t that sound anti-democratic, you wonder? Answer: Shut up and vote for Biden, you peons!

Overall, however, if Duncan is the candidate, it could be something Trump has to worry about — especially in a state where he’s struggled to close the deal over the past two elections. Polls there have been promising thus far. It’ll be interesting to see if anything were to change if Duncan runs; rest assured, Trump’s people are paying close attention to where this one goes.


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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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