A screenshot of Brian Kemp's ad in the GOP runoff.

Kemp’s new ad seizes on secret Cagle recording 

‘If that’s not criminal, it should be.’ 

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s first ad in the runoff only nodded toward the secret recording of his GOP rival that jolted the runoff for governor. His second ad released Tuesday doesn’t dance around the subject.

The Kemp 30-second ad doesn’t feature any of the standbys that helped propel him to the July 24 showdown with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle: There are no pickup trucks, firearms or explosions. And “Jake,” the young actor featured in two of his spots, is nowhere to be seen.

Instead, Kemp speaks directly to the camera about the recording, which was surreptitiously taped by former candidate Clay Tippins. In that audio, Cagle tells Tippins he supported a private school tax credit that was bad “a thousand different ways” to prevent another rival from getting financial support.

“Well, if that’s not criminal, it should be,” said Kemp in the ad, as headlines about the recording flash on the screen. “I’m Brian Kemp and as governor, I’ll fight for what’s right. To make Georgia proud. Every day.”

Cagle was the leading vote-getter in the May primary, and he’s built a big fundraising advantage. But polls suggest the race is tightening as Kemp tries to outflank Cagle on the right, framing himself as the more ardent supporter of Donald Trump, of gun rights, of stricter abortion restrictions and so on. 

For Kemp, who just put $1 million behind a statewide ad buy, there’s another reason for the approach.

An internal poll released by his campaign shows he’s making headway in metro Atlanta, where the knowledge of the recording is relatively high. But he hopes that highlighting the audio will sway voters in other parts of the state who haven’t yet heard about the tape. 

Watch the ad here:


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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