Casey Cagle impersonators are suddenly in high demand.
Republican Hunter Hill debuted Tuesday the first TV ad of his campaign for governor, a 30-second spot highlighting the former state senator’s military service and his pledge to eliminate the state income tax.
The U.S. Army Ranger’s ad features him stampeding through a military obstacle course, followed by a balding middle-aged politician who looks suspiciously like the lieutenant governor and another who resembles Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
“During three combat tours, I defended our Constitution. And now I’m ready to serve again,” said Hill, after crawling under a cargo net trailed by his two hapless opponents. “These guys, they’ll never make it out of the swamp.”
The campaign spent $365,000 on the ad buy and said the spot will be on air in every major Georgia media market by the week’s end.
Hill’s ad follows the TV debut of another GOP military veteran, first-time Clay Tippins, who plopped down $250,000 for a Super Bowl ad buy over the weekend. That 60-second spot also featured a Cagle lookalike - this one dressed in a powder-blue tuxedo.
There’s ample reason the GOP rivals are taking direct fire at Cagle. He’s the presumptive frontrunner in the Republican race to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal, and the four other leading contenders are battling for a second-place spot in the May primary for the rights to square off in a July runoff.
With a stockpile of nearly $6 million in campaign cash, Cagle has so far held back on digging deep into his coffers. But this week’s ad volleys may ratchet up the pressure on Kemp to counter.
He’s planning a 50-stop, 10-day bus tour this month, while Cagle and another GOP candidate, state Sen. Michael Williams, are in legislative session.
Hill is trying to carve out a lane as a “battle-tested conservative” who will take a hard line on illegal immigration and slash state spending. But the emergence of Tippins, a Navy SEAL also from Atlanta, has injected more uncertainty into the unsettled race.
Democrats Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans are vying for their party’s nomination, hoping that unrest over President Donald Trump and changing demographics help flip the office for the first time in 16 years.
Watch the ad here:
Keep reading other stories about Georgia’s elections from this week: