Former state Sen. Hunter Hill of Atlanta. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hunter Hill suddenly has a target on his back in Georgia gov race

Casey Cagle has the biggest target on his back, but Hunter Hill might be the second-favorite punching bag in the GOP race for governor. The former state senator is facing increasing attacks in a tight contest for the No. 2 spot in a likely July runoff.

His opponents are homing in on remarks he made about potentially raising the minimum age to purchase guns from 18 to 21. He says he misspoke and that he believes in an across-the-board standard minimum age of 18 to buy firearms. 

To emphasize his point, he recently filmed a campaign ad at a gun range, where he reminds his audience of his military background while slicing through a far-off target like a sharpshooter. “I won’t give an inch on our Second Amendment,” he said.

His rivals say it was no errant slip of the tongue. They point to past statements where he echoed his point and a “C” rating by the National Rifle Association as evidence. State Sen. Michael Williams, the first to seize on Hill’s gun record, called him a fake conservative who “swings both ways” on gun control. 

Another candidate, businessman Clay Tippins, released a web ad Friday claiming he “gutted” a gun expansion in 2014 and that the NRA has refused to endorse him. It ends with a quote from Hill at a recent forum chastising Republicans who campaign like Ronald Reagan and govern like Barack Obama.

Hill’s campaign shot back Friday by invoking his military career and votes to “expand gun rights at every opportunity” in the state Senate. 

“Desperate, failing campaigns can’t sell voters on their own vision for Georgia,” said Hill spokesman Cody Hall, “so they choose to level false attacks against the only true conservative candidate gaining momentum.”

The intensifying fire on Hill could drag down his numbers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Tippins or Williams will benefit. 

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who has focused his criticism on Cagle, is also in the thick of things. And his supporters are gleefully watching the attacks. 

Watch the video here:

More recent AJC coverage of the governor’s race:

Cagle’s Delta stance helps him win NRA’s endorsement 

The Jolt: The Cobb forum began with drama -- and ended with attacks on Hunter Hill 

After Delta flap, a few execs pony up to Georgia Democrats  

Kemp pushes anti-gang initiative in Georgia gov race  

A biting Abrams-Evans exchange over HOPE, state contracts  

More than $22 million has been pumped into Georgia governor’s race  

Many worry about changes an Amazon headquarters could usher in  

Evans vows to ‘finish the job’ with HOPE scholarship in first TV ad  

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.

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