Close lieutenant governor runoff could head to vote recount

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2018

By Russ Bynum
The Associated Press

A former state lawmaker claimed victory Wednesday in the Republican runoff for Georgia lieutenant governor, though unofficial election results showed such a close race that a recount of the votes may be needed before a winner is declared.

Unofficial returns showed former state Rep. Geoff Duncan finishing just 1,740 votes ahead of state Sen. David Shafer in the Tuesday election. That’s less than 1 percent of the total votes cast in the runoff, which exceeded 556,000.

Georgia law allows for a recount in any election where the victory margin is less than 1 percent. Shafer of Duluth would have to request a recount in writing within two business days after Georgia’s secretary of state certifies the election results.

Duncan of Cumming didn’t wait to declare himself the winner.

“WE WON!” Duncan tweeted Wednesday. “Grateful for all of the support our family has received from all over this great state. Off to the General Election!”

His official campaign website links to the Twitter account that posted the tweet.

Shafer, meanwhile, stayed silent on social media. Neither of the rivals’ campaigns immediately returned phone and email messages Wednesday.

A victory for Duncan would be another blow to Georgia’s Republican establishment following the defeat of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the GOP runoff for governor Tuesday. Shafer was running for a shot at succeeding Cagle, whose primary duty as lieutenant governor was to preside over the state Senate. Shafer served 15 years as a senator, including five years as the chamber’s president pro tempore.

Duncan served five years in the state House, but campaigned as an outsider focusing on his experience as a businessman and entrepreneur. During the race Duncan accused Shafer of being a career politician who profited personally from his years in office — a charge Shafer called “completely dishonest.”

State officials were still working Tuesday with county election officials to determine whether any absentee or provisional ballots remained uncounted in the lieutenant governor runoff, said Candice Broce, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The deadline for Kemp, who beat Cagle in the GOP runoff for governor, to certify the election results is Aug. 7.