Duncan’s Seventh Inning Stretch – From Pitching to Politics
Spend just 30 minutes with Rep. Geoff Duncan and you can’t help but be caught up with an infectious energy from the man for his home state of Georgia. You’re able to close your eyes and begin to imagine the opportunity he embraces in the next decade for his state.
From pitching to politics and success at business in between, the interview with Candidate Duncan to wear the jersey of Lt. Governor for the great state of Georgia takes you from pitcher’s mound, successful entrepreneur’s desk, halls of the state capital, and a full family partnership with his high school sweetheart – all of this being faith based.
Caras – “Rep. Duncan. You were a pitcher for the Florida Marlins organization for almost eight years. And now five years with the Georgia State Legislature. Can you see any similarities between the two?
Rep. Duncan – “The competitiveness in sports mimics that in baseball and sports. With both you’re being given the opportunity to be on the stage. With baseball it was my physical talent on show and that I was being judged and tested. In politics it’s your ideas and how conservative you might be that you are being judged and tested. There is a lot of crossover in the two.”
Caras – “In reading some of the background information about you it would appear you’ve not totally left baseball behind… what with coaching 26 teams.”
Rep. Duncan – “I fired all my bullets on the field. (In 2001 Rep. Duncan retired from the game after a shoulder injury.) The coaching has kept that a part of my life. It always will be a part.”
*A baseball player in high school for Chattahoochee High School in Alpharetta, where he and his wife, Brooke, first met. Both later attended Georgia Tech where Duncan was a scholarship pitcher on the baseball team before being drafted by the Florida Marlins.
Caras – “With your three sons and that much coaching have you been able to coach any of the boys? And are any of the three following in dad’s footsteps and pitching?”
You can hear the pride in Duncan’s voice as he answers. Rep. Duncan – “In fact I have had the privilege of doing just that with all three – and yes, all are pitchers. The little guy isn’t really old enough to have totally chosen yet, and the oldest; he’s transitioned to golf and is on the Hurricane Tour right now.”
Caras – “The coaching has brought you shoulder to shoulder with the youth of Georgia. How would you describe the youngsters you’ve been able interact with and what their future holds for them and America?”
With a great deal of pride in his voice for the teams he’s coached — Rep. Duncan – “We have a wonderfully articulate and ambitious generation coming up. They are fueled by their experience and expertise in the technology and knowledge it is affording them. Yet, in anything our rising generation still need those role models in their lives to teach them the moral values needed. And to teach the importance of family and home.”
Caras – “In 2012 with your run for the Georgia House the campaign carried the motto, ‘Recovery Begins Now.’ You won that election by 55 votes and now it’s 2017. Do you feel like the recovery you were inviting the voters to be a part of has happened?”
Before answering the question, Duncan chuckled and said, “Yes. I won by a landslide didn’t I. Guess it was just like in sports though where a win is a win.”
Rep. Duncan – “That actually came from my sitting in a seminar for the recovery begins with me. Instead of sitting there complaining about the way things are for you; it’s up to me to get up and do something. And five years later I’m proud to say we were able to do that with three important pieces of legislation passed.
HB749 – The Cargo Theft Act, HB152 – Michael’s Law that requires all bouncers in Georgia bars to be over the age of 21 and came about because a bouncer beat 18-year old Michael Gatto to death. And probably the one most creative is SB258 that encourages certain tax free donations to struggling rural hospitals. This rural health care bill is one we’ve had a lot of states looking at. Georgia can be a leader for other states with this and health care.” (SB258 in just its first year is credited with bring more than $250 million to Georgia’s rural hospitals.)
Caras – “After baseball you and Brooke joined America’s ranks of entrepreneurs with the creation of a couple of very successful marketing companies. What was the family’s reaction when dad decided to move into politics?”
In answering this question a tone of respect filled his voice. Rep. Duncan – “Brooke and I grew up together and after we graduated we went to Georgia Tech together. Politics was a family decision we made. We felt and saw the difference it made in our lives and how positive it was. We wanted to share that same thing we had and let it have that impact on all of Georgia.”
Caras – “With the intensity and somewhat chaotic nature of politicking that has gone on in America of late. It sometimes almost seems people cringe when they hear the word ‘candidate’. What are your feelings about that?”
Rep. Duncan – “People are seeing through the answer being given. They are seeing candidates who are giving the answers that just need to be given to stay in office. With the tools of social media where someone can actually check the real time answers and the fake news – people are tired of it… on both sides of the isle. They are tired of listening to both sides state a philosophy in the campaign and then become someone else when elected.”
Even with the hectic schedule of a candidate working in a statewide race, Rep. Duncan said it’s always his goal to make it home every evening. Asked where he was making his way during this interview he said, “This Friday night I’m on my way to spend an evening visiting with the ladies of Fayetteville who are part of the Women’s Legislative Club.”
He had a quiet laugh when I commented, Caras, “So you’re going to be every ladies date this Friday night in Fayetteville.”
Caras – “When you make it home what is it you do to unwind and relax? And what book is it that is on Candidate Duncan’s nightstand?”
Rep. Duncan – “My routine is to tear out the Life section and go to the crossword puzzle. My morning read is of a devotional nature and I try to go through the New Testament as often as I can.
Brooke and I are part of a leadership group that teaches Bible study. Right now I’m still able to do it and campaign.”
Asking what the last movie Rep. Duncan had seen, he laughed saying, “ET, nah. I really can’t remember. My wife will tell you I won’t sit still that long.”
Caras – “Your 2012 win by 55 votes turned into an uncontested run and win in 2016. What’s going to be the secret that will bring you the win in this race for Lt. Governor of Georgia?”
Rep. Duncan – “Geoff Duncan’s secret sauce is for us to meet as many people in Georgia as possible. Our mission profile in the next few months is we’re going to meet those people face-to-face. And another key will be in our fundraising.
Most importantly though, is for the voters to meet Geoff Duncan the Conservative. In my race I’m the outsider. I’ve only been in this (politics) for six years. If you look at the group I’m not the one who rises to the top, but I plan on being there in November. I’m right here, right now. And I’m out to meet the people of Georgia.”
Caras – “You’re a lifelong citizen of Georgia. Grew up here. Married your high school sweetheart. Leader and standout on the hometown and Georgia State baseball teams. Went on to the big leagues then came home and had the ride of being a successful businessman and beloved politician – a title not worn by many these days.
It’s almost as if you’re at the top of the Seventh Inning Stretch and it’s time for the people of Georgia to sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ where there’s some rooting for the home team? What is it you see for Georgia as you go into the downhill side of this campaign?”
Rep. Duncan, without missing a beat and the pride of the leader of the hometown team, says, “Georgia and its people have the best days in front of them. We have great opportunities for incredible growth here. We are leaders in the nation in so many things and we need to be ready to consumers of the opportunities presented and be leaders in moving forward with them.
We can step up and be leaders nationally for education, transportation and healthcare. Georgia in so many things is going to be a leader for other states and citizens for the next ten years. And my commitment to Georgia is that of being a conservative. I might not be the next person in line, but if they’ve got a minute before the election I’d like to talk to them.”
By Clark H. Caras