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State Sen. Butch Miller speaks about his run for lieutenant governor, future of Republican Party
Butch Miller 2021
Georgia State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, speaks on the legislative session's first day on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Atlanta. - photo by Associated Press

State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, officially launched his campaign Tuesday, May 25, for lieutenent governor.

“I want to protect the conservative policies and conservative values that are clearly working for Georgia,” he told The Times in a phone interview.

Miller’s announcement comes in the wake of Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s May 17 statement that he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2022. Miller, who had said his decision to run was based on Duncan’s plans, filed paperwork last week for the higher office.

A South Hall resident and manager of Milton Martin Honda in Gainesville, Miller has served as state senator since 2011.

“Ships are comfortable in the harbor, but that’s not what they’re built for,” said Miller, speaking of his decision to run. “I’m not looking for comfort. I’m looking to make a difference.”

He said a top issue for him in the lieutenant governor’s race is criminal justice reform “in terms of keeping violent offenders in prison but training (others) in prison to go out and have meaningful jobs.”

Miller, who also serves as Senate president pro tem, pointed to the General Assembly’s reduction in income taxes and passage of the “heartbeat bill,” which bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as key accomplishments during his watch in the Senate.

“Those are things that I’m involved in, that I’m proud of,” he said. “Those are some things I can build on.”

Speaking of Duncan’s decision to leave office, Miller said Duncan “has a vision of what he wants to accomplish in life, and I encourage him for going after that. That’s not the focus of my candidacy and really not my concern. That’s his concern.”

Duncan was among the most high-profile Republicans to openly oppose former President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud, angering many in his own party.

Duncan said he will focus on building an advocacy organization called GOP 2.0 that “will focus on healing and rebuilding a Republican Party that is damaged but not destroyed.”

“GOP 2.0 will work hard every day reminding Americans the value of conservative policies through genuine empathy and a respectful tone,” he said.

When asked about issues within the GOP, Miller said, “The Republican Party has to be united to win. That is first and foremost.”

He went on to say of the party, “We’re at a crossroads, geographically, culturally and politically. We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got to be looking at 2022, 2024, and not looking in the rear-view mirror at 2020.”

Miller said he believes that whether a person has “Trump affinity” or not, the main concern should be “America first.”

“I’m not going to apologize for America being great,” he said.