Though Forsyth County is named for a governor of Georgia — John Forsyth, who served 1827-1829 — it appears no candidate from the county has held either of the state’s top two elected positions: governor and lieutenant governor.
That could soon change.
On May 22, voters across the state will select party candidates for local, state and federal offices. District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams and former-District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan will be on the Republican ballot for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.
Both said they were hoping to take Forsyth County’s values statewide.
“I think the system’s even more broken than what I thought it was. I think it’s easy for conservatives to have talking points that the system is kind of broken. It’s broken.”Former Rep. Geoff Duncan
“This has been an amazing experience for us, for our family, to represent Forsyth County’s values and what we do right in so many things all over the state,” Duncan said. “Folks recognize that I’m from Forsyth County. ‘Hey, you guys educate your kids great out there.’ ‘Hey, you’ve got a booming economy.’ ‘Hey, you continue to attract companies to move there.’ It’s happening; we’re recognized.”
Williams said having a governor from Forsyth could mean a lot for the county.
“I’m very excited for Forsyth County,” Williams said. “To have a governor from Forsyth County would mean a humongous benefit to the county, just the access and the attention as well. I’m excited and hope to represent Forsyth County well.”
Though the campaigns are not connected — the offices of governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately — both men described themselves as outsiders challenging the establishment, and both felt they were in good positions less than two weeks from the primary.
“We feel very good. We have been working out for almost a year campaigning hard. We’ve traveled all over the beautiful state of Georgia talking to tens of thousands of people,” Williams said “We’re exactly where we want to be. We’re neck and neck for that second spot position. It’s pretty much been conceded that [Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle] is going to come in first in the primary and the battle is for who’s that second spot.”
Williams was first elected to his current seat in 2014 and, due to state rules preventing candidates from running for two races, chose to run for governor instead of re-election. The businessman was the first elected official in Georgia to support the candidacy of President Donald Trump.
“The message is really resonating with people. They’re tired of career politicians. They’re tired of candidates that know all the right things to say.”Sen. Michael Williams
In the primary, voters will decide between Williams and fellow Republican candidates Cagle, restaurant owner Eddie Hayes, former-District 6 state Rep. Hunter Hill, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, businessman and former Navy SEAL Clay Tippins and Marc Urbach, a businessman who has withdrawn from the race but will remain on the ballot.
Williams said his campaign slogan has been “Fearless Conservative” and felt his campaign had shown that.
“We have been out there giving away bump stocks trying to defend our Second Amendment. We had a protest over a teacher kicking two kids out of her class for wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ shirts,” Williams said. “I was the first elected official in Georgia to come out and support Donald Trump. I’m not just a bunch of rhetoric. I’m actually doing the things people want done.”
Duncan, who served as a state Representative from 2013 until last year, when he stepped down to focus on the lieutenant governor race, is a businessman and retired baseball player, who was a scholarship pitcher at Georgia Tech and played six seasons in the then-Florida Marlins farm system, where he reached the AAA level.
“I decided after five years of watching this process down there that I either wanted to be in charge or go home,” Duncan said. “The sacrifices I was making away from [his wife] Brooke and the boys were too much to just go down there and fall in line and to continue to watch people talking about solving problems, but not actually fixing them.”
Also running for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor are District 48 state Sen. David Shafer and former District 17 state Sen. Rick Jeffares.
If elected, Duncan said he wants to prioritize policy over politics. He said the thing most shocking to him in his term was the “backroom, petty politics.”
“I think the system’s even more broken than what I thought it was,” Duncan said. “I think it’s easy for conservatives to have talking points that the system is kind of broken. It’s broken. Big ideas, big bold ideas that people vote for us to go be a champion of, die a miserable, painful death in a small, little, tiny, smoke-filled dark room … not because of any sort of policy reason. They die because of politics, because somebody didn’t go to somebody else’s fundraiser.”
Running for state office takes a lot of meetings and a lot of driving.
Williams said his campaign has days that start in Savannah and end in Hiawassee in north Georgia.
“The message is really resonating with people,” Williams said. “They’re tired of career politicians. They’re tired of candidates that know all the right things to say. You listen to some of the commercials and some of the TV ads, they talk about all the right things, but when you dive into the experience of these candidates it shows something else.”
Duncan said there has been a lot of work going into the campaign but that the campaign is seeing results. a
“Work ethic is what separates people,” Duncan said. “We’re seeing the fruit of our work ethic now. We’re seeing all of these hundreds and hundreds of speeches I’ve given everywhere in the state, tens of thousands of miles, we’re seeing a payoff. … we’ve got a shot.”