Secretary of State Brian Kemp is trying to get ahead of what could be a round of damaging attacks from an outside group backing Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign for governor.
The Republican used a speech at the Cobb County GOP meeting over the weekend to assail the “secret donors and shady tactics” from Citizens for Georgia’s Future, which recently slipped word it could launch ads to try to influence the race for the No. 2 spot in the May 22 primary.
“That’s typical, pathetic, insider politics if you ask me,” said Kemp, who said he “fully expects” to be targeted by pro-Cagle forces in the next two weeks.
He said the group will criticize his record as Georgia’s top elections official and question his experience in the private sector. Kemp came under intense scrutiny for his role in data breaches and disclosures and has been named in lawsuits claiming he failed to pay back business loans.
“Cagle’s team will attempt to stop the bleeding he’s experiencing by lashing out at me,” he told a few dozen Republican activists. “But you’re smarter than that.”
The unusual tack by Kemp comes after the AJC reported the outside group plans to potentially “fill some of the holes” on a rival’s resume to try to shape the July runoff.
Recent polls, including an AJC/WSB survey released in late April, show Kemp and former state Sen. Hunter Hill in a statistical tie for the second spot in a likely July showdown against Cagle.
It’s not clear who the pro-Cagle group will target, but both candidates could threaten the lieutenant governor in a runoff.
Kemp, the winner of two statewide elections, has formidable name recognition and has staked his candidacy on building support in rural Georgia. And Hill is a former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger who is trying to gain traction with a pledge to eliminate the state income tax.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.