ATLANTA — Republicans are starting to step into the vacuum left when GOP Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced last week he would not seek a second term.

Georgia Senate Pro Tempore Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, entered the race for lieutenant governor Tuesday. Miller, a car dealer, was elected to the Senate in 2010 and chosen president pro tempore by his legislative colleagues in 2018.

“As a state senator, I’ve worked with visionary conservative leaders to make our state the No. 1 state for business and a safe haven for the conservative, traditional values that made our state and nation great,” Miller said.

“I’m running for lieutenant governor to defend our conservative accomplishments, to enrich Georgians with jobs-friendly policies, to defend our constitutional rights, and to protect and promote the sanctity of life and opportunity.”

Miller noted in declaring his candidacy that he stepped up to preside over the Senate back in March during the floor debate that led to the passage of a controversial Republican-backed election bill Democrats criticized as voter suppression.

Republican backers defended the measure as a way to restore trust in Georgia’s electoral process.

Duncan, who normally presides as Senate president, stepped away from the rostrum during the debate, signaling his opposition to a provision doing away with no-excuse absentee voting that was later removed from the bill.

Duncan said last week he’s leaving statewide office at the end of next year to focus on creating a political organization called “GOP 2.0” aimed at “healing and rebuilding” the national Republican Party amid the fallout from former President Donald Trump’s continued claims of voter fraud in the 2020 elections.

Several Democrats have emerged to run for the second-highest position in state government, including state Reps. Erick Allen of Smyrna and Derrick Jackson of Tyrone.

Other Republicans are expected to join Miller in the 2022 field as well.

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