Sheldon Adelson is a billionaire casino magnate and GOP mega-donor.
Photo: AP Photo/John Locher, File
Photo: AP Photo/John Locher, File

Casey Cagle goes to Vegas – but not to court GOP mega-donor 

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle trekked to Las Vegas on Tuesday to raise cash for his bid for governor. But his campaign said he won’t be meeting with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, one of the GOP’s biggest benefactors. 

The Republican held a fundraiser hosted by data center executives who are thrilled with a newly-passed tax break for the industry. Campaign manager Scott Binkley said it shows data center officials understand that Cagle “is the best candidate to continue creating jobs in the sector.”

Las Vegas-based Switch, which is building a data center campus in Douglas County and would benefit from the tax break, has already contributed at least $6,300 to Cagle’s campaign. 

The trip did not include what has become a pilgrimage for Georgia GOP candidates: A visit with Adelson. Binkley, though, said his campaign would “welcome his backing.” 

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp emerged as the top finalists in Tuesday's election.

Gov. Nathan Deal visited an Adelson-owned hotel in the middle of his re-election bid in 2014, though he refused to say whether he met with the billionaire. And Adelson almost single-handedly floated Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign.

As the Georgia push to legalize casino gambling heated up in 2015, Adelson and his entourage visited the state Capitol to meet with legislative leaders. But the proposal fizzled out amid staunch objection from Deal and other GOP leaders. 

Cagle, who faces Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the July 24 runoff, is set to return to Georgia on Wednesday. He and Kemp both oppose legalized casino gambling, and Binkley said Cagle’s “position on that issue remains unchanged.”

Kemp campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney scoffed at the notion that Cagle wasn’t meeting with gambling executives while in Vegas.

"For those who believe Cagle is not meeting with casino representatives in Sin City, I got some oceanfront property in Nevada to sell you,” said Mahoney, adding “he will flip flop on positions faster than John Kerry if the price is right." 

The winner will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia House minority leader who has said her party would only back gambling measures if Republicans agreed to use the new revenues to add a needs-based program for the HOPE scholarship. 

Read more recent AJC stories on the Georgia race for governor 

A Cagle poll previews a new attack in July runoff 

Backers of Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ effort energized by Supreme Court decision 

Democrats reprise GOP attacks against Cagle, Kemp 

Act II for Stacey Evans: First female chair of the Cobb County Commission? 

Shotguns galore! Casey Cagle attacks Brian Kemp on an ag deal gone sour  

Abrams’ poll points to sharper November focus on ‘diverse economy’  

Why Georgia’s governor is optimistic about Atlanta’s bid for Amazon  

Cagle, Kemp scrap over blame for nine-week runoff  

Georgia Democrats test a more liberal comeback strategy  

A widening gulf on gun policy shapes Georgia races after primary  

A Democratic love-fest: Georgia partisans unite at fundraiser 

Georgia Republicans face infighting while Democrats work on unity  

A 'deportation bus’ candidate screeches to last-place finish 

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper...

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