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COLUMN: Analysis on Georgia’s Republican Race for Lieutenant Governor

The following article is an editorialized opinion piece and reflects only the views of the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia.

The Lieutenant Governor is the second-highest ranking position in the state and will be charged with the day-to-day operations of the Senate. The race has actually garnered more media attention over the last several months due to heavyweight endorsements and negative campaigning,

The nice thing about all three candidates is that they’ve all served in public office before, so we have records to look to when comparing what they’re saying on the campaign trail. This is a good thing because only one of the candidates has outlined issues on his website. The worst thing about all three is that neither have roots in rural Georgia, leaving much concern for Georgians who face different battles than those in metro Atlanta.

For me, the most exciting thing about the Lieutenant Governor’s race is that I will actually have the opportunity to cast a vote. Unfortunately, since I have been old enough to vote, Casey Cagle has been in office and I have never cast a vote for him. I always had to skip the race or write someone in. So 2018 is a big year!

Here’s my breakdown of the three Republican candidates seeking to be our state’s next Lieutenant Governor.

Pictured LEFT to RIGHT: Geoff Duncan, Rick Jeffares, David Shafer

Geoff Duncan 

Businessman, Former State Representative – Home in Forsyth County.
Visit his website

Duncan was elected in 2012 and sworn in to the Georgia House in 2013. He served on the House Banks & Banking, Information & Audits, Interstate Cooperation, Science & Technology, and Ways & Means committees. He and his wife, Brooke, have three sons.

His website is light on detailed information, whether biographical or policy positions, leaving much to the imagination and instead focuses on higher-level positions of the role of government, specifically saying his goals are to empower job creators, empower parents (and limit bureaucracy), fight for innocent life, and dismantle government programs.

While in the legislature, he was responsible for ‘Michael’s Law,’ a bill that spawned from  an accident in Bulloch County that led to the death of a student in a bar. The legislation expanded government oversight for bars and limited the types of people who could work in them. The legislation had a direct impact on college towns. He also co-sponsored legislation on programmable thermostats, a bill to eliminate drugs and over-the-counter drugs from the state sales tax exemption, and he tried to reform the income tax deduction for doctors, nurses, and PAs. Duncan was also the lead sponsor on legislation to call for a Constitutional Amendment to allow for secret ballots of elections of public officers (for instance, when public employees or officers have to vote on something that could affect their employment if the ballot was not secret).

PROS: He was the lead sponsor of the income tax credit for donations to rural hospitals. The legislation has worked as an incentive for more people to donate to struggling hospitals in many parts of our state and the region I live in has benefited greatly. In fact, Evans Memorial Hospital is one of the biggest beneficiaries. Duncan was also part of one of the most conservative caucuses in the Georgia House during his time in the legislature and his voting record is conservatively sound. I supported about 90% of the votes he cast as a lawmaker and in 2013, 2014, and 2015, he took some tough hits politically while standing for principle. By and large, he supported guns, lowering taxes, health care freedom, and limited government.

CONS: Left his seat in the middle of his term (September 2017) to run for higher office, saddling taxpayers with the cost of a special election. He also served in the House, which is the opposite chamber of the Senate, meaning there will be a small learning curve on operations. He’s also run a campaign largely based on negative attack ads on his opponents, which has driven up name recognition as the person leveraging the attacks, but has left him with fewer talking points on his own platform. Where I differed with his positions in the legislature stem from his use of ‘incentives’ or altering the tax code. I’m a firm supporter in starting from scratch instead of more exceptions and carve outs here and there.

FUNDRAISING: As of the March 31, reporting deadline, Duncan showed $788,058.72 in donations to date with just over $279,000 in expenditures. He also reported a $250,000 debt for the primary race and $100,000 in debt for the run-off (should he advance after May 22). The donations he’s received are balanced between individuals, corporations (finance and developers seem to rule), and other elected officials.

Rick Jeffares

Businessman, Former State Senator – Home in Henry County.

Visit his website

Jeffares is a former County Commissioner and former State Senator elected in 2010. He also has his own business, J&T Environmental Services, an operation and maintenance services company. He also serves as a project manager for G. Ben Turnipseed Engineers. He and his wife have 4 children.

When he served in the State Senate, he was a member of the Senate Appropriations, Ethics, Natural Resources & the Environment (Vice Chair), Regulated Industries & Utilities (Chair), and State Institutions & Property committees.

He’s been fairly quiet on the campaign trail, at least in south Georgia, mostly visiting cities and counties where his company has contracts. He is the closest we’ll get to a candidate with rural Georgia understanding, as he is from middle-ish Georgia’s Henry County.

On his website, Jeffares outlines a plan where he says he plans to RESTORE ‘conservative values, fiscal discipline, technical education, and rural economic development,’ REDUCE ‘the state budget, repeal 2 regulations for every one new 1, tuition, and the tax burden,’ and to REFORM ethics laws.

In the legislature, Jeffares sponsored legislation to allow physicians assistants to prescribe hydrocodone opioids, a bill to allow for nonpartisan elections at the local level (district attorney, sheriff, coroner, tax commissioner, etc), and one of the earlier craft brewery bills. He also co-sponsored a bill to allow home school students to participate in extracurricular activities, a bill to allow for unmanned speed detection devices in school zones, and one to have different licenses for people who are US citizens from those who are not citizens.

PROS: His voting record has been mediocre, which is actually pretty great for the liberal Senate Georgia has. His NO button was used mildly.

CONS: Jeffares left his seat in the middle of his term to run for higher office, saddling taxpayers with the cost of a special election. He also wasn’t out front in the Senate much leading the charge on particular issues. The state campaign finance site also indicates that Jeffares has donated thousands from his Senate fund to other candidates in contested races around the state. 

FUNDRAISING: As of the March 31 filing deadline, Jeffares has raised $826,018.00 and spent $445,748.34. The majority of his spending has been on campaign staffers and consulting services.

David Shafer 

State Senator, Former President Pro-Tem of the Senate – Home in Gwinnett County

Visit his website

Shafer was elected to the State Senate in 2002 during a special election. Before that, he was the Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party. He is married to Lee and has a daughter and step-son.

Shafer’s website has concise issue positions on everything from taxes and spending to education and traffic. In his video interview with AllOnGeorgia, Shafer focused heavily on his track record in the Senate, but also on reforming the processes in the Senate to ensure they’re more transparent. (See below)

In addition to serving as the Senate President Pro-Tem, Shafer served on the Senate Image result for david shaferAppropriations, Banking & Financial Institutions, Finance, Government Oversight, Health & Human Services, Insurance & Labor, Reapportionment & Redistricting, Regulated Industries & Utilities, and Rules committees.

Shafer is a long-serving Senator, so his legislative record would be hard to sum up for this brief article, but in more recent legislative terms, he sponsored legislation to prevent credit reporting agencies from charging a fee to freeze and unfreeze accounts of consumers during identity theft investigations, he’s supported efforts to halt sanctuary cities and policies for illegal immigrants, and he pushed legislation like the adoption bill and the brunch bill.

In his campaign for Lieutenant Governor, he’s been endorsed by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz,, the National Rifle Association, Georgia Right to Life, the Georgia Life Alliance, and more than 200 current and former members of the Georgia General Assembly.

PROS: He led the charge for zero based budgeting and he’s always been a strong supporter (and sponsor of) 2nd Amendment legislation. You may not always agree with his positions, but you’ll know where he stands on issues due to his voting record.

CONS: He has served in office for a long time and is, by definition, a career politician. He did support one of the state’s largest tax increase (HB 170 in 2015) but he represents a metro county so depending on where you live, you may or may not find that as a negative. Shafer dodged one question – on CBD oil access/expansion- during his interview with AllOnGeorgia (see below).

FUNDRAISING: As of March 31, the Shafer campaign raised $1,585,548.94 and $183,510.90 in expenditures. The majority of his donations are from within the boundaries of the state.

Senator Shafer did sit down with AllOnGeorgia. My candidate interview in its entirety with him is below.

David Shafer

at 8pm: Jessica Szilagyi sits down with Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor David Shafer.

Posted by All On on Monday, May 7, 2018


The Republican Primary is set for May 22. Early voting is currently taking place and runs through May 18. Please vote for the candidate who most aligns with your values and convictions, not the one you think will win.


Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for

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