Casey Cagle, a candidate in the GOP runoff for governor, at a state Capitol press conference last week. ALYSSAPOINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

The Jolt: In more leaked audio, Casey Cagle confesses sympathy for poor 

Late Monday afternoon, what may be the final snippet of that secret audio recording of Casey Cagle arrived via email.

The fact that the clip came not from the Brian Kemp campaign but a former staffer for Hunter Hill, who finished third in the May 24 GOP primary for governor, was an immediate signal that the content would be somewhat different.

Remember that secret recording of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, when he defined 47 percent of Americans as moochers? This is the exact opposite.

After being caught connecting the financing of political campaigns to legislation, after noting that the dynamics of this GOP race for governor felt like a contest of “who could be the craziest,” the latest clip from the secret audio recorded by former rival Clay Tippins now has Cagle revealing a dark, dark secret:

Cagle says he cares about poor people. Listen here. A quick transcript:

“I literally have a goal – a personal goal. I want to cut poverty in half. And I believe that I can do it….If you’ve got a governor in January who’s really focused on the need and really trying to lift those people up – it’s not you I worry about. It’s not your kids I worry about…

“I mean, you’ve heard my story of where I came from. That’s not [expletive]. That’s real, okay? Every ounce of that is real. I attended eight elementary schools by the time I reached the sixth grade. I really should not be where I am.

“My focus is down there. It’s not those up there, and that’s what pisses me off about Republicans and people like Hunter.”

In the email that accompanied the clip, Hill associate Braden Goodgame explained why Republican primary voters should be upset by Cagle’s comments:

After calling Georgia conservatives "crazy", deeming 2nd Amendment supporters as "rabid", and claiming that Republican Primary voters "don't give a [expletive]" about public policy, Casey Cagle ends his rant on the infamous Tippins Tape by channeling his inner Lyndon B. Johnson and declaring another multi-trillion dollar war on poverty.

50+ years of failed "Great Society" welfare programs should serve as a precaution, not a game plan to be replicated in our state. We need a governor who is going to fight for our values; not repeat the failed liberal experiment of leftist presidents and career politicians.

True conservatives, Goodgame explained, “know that churches and private charities do a far better job in helping the impoverished reach prosperity than big government welfare programs.”

Nowhere in the recording does Cagle explain how he would conduct or pay for his war on poverty. But Goodgame does write that Cagle’s comment “ends his rant on the infamous Tippins Tape” – implying that the final seven days of the gubernatorial runoff will see no more developments from that source.

The Cagle campaign ignored the source of the audio. It preferred to blame the only other candidate in next Tuesday’s runoff. From Cagle spokesman Scott Binkley:

Brian Kemp wants our jails full, our welfare rolls packed with people who should be working, and kids going to bed hungry at night. That's simply pathetic.

Democrats are enjoying the fight. Stacey Abrams, the party’s nominee for governor, has pledged to fight poverty and battle economic inequality. But it was her former rival, ex-state lawmaker Stacey Evans, who was first out of the gate on Twitter:

Channel 2 hosted Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp at the debate.


As the hours passed Monday, we heard from more and more Georgia lawmakers on President Trump’s snub of the U.S. intelligence community on Russia. But one voice that was notably silent belonged to U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

The close Trump ally laid low yesterday as reporters swarmed the U.S. Capitol looking for reaction to Trump’s Helsinki press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

But CNN’s Manu Raju managed to find the first-term Republican, reporting back that Perdue was one of the few officials to defend the president’s comments outright: “He's got information I don't have,” Perdue said, according to Raju. “I'm not going to second guess a comment like that .. What we have to do right now is we have to hold them accountable, and that's what he's trying to do” 


Some of the most direct criticism from a Georgia Republican came from former House speaker Newt Gingrich. The informal Trump adviser, who can usually be counted upon to defend the president, on Monday called Trump’s comments “the most serious mistake of his presidency.” Gingrich said Trump’s remarks “Must be corrected -- immediately.” 


The 2010 Republican runoff for governor, between Nathan Deal and Karen Handel, at times felt like it revolved around a singular issue: Abortion. Not so this year.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp have sought to give their opposition no opening to paint them as soft on the issue. 

Kemp earlier vowed to pass the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions, and Cagle followed up by saying he’d sign any “pro-life” legislation that reached his desk. 

And this week, Cagle assembled what he dubs the “pro-life task force” to craft a policy to crack down on abortion facilities that violate the law, and to advise state agencies on steps to “further protect life.” 

The group is headed by Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, an early Cagle supporter. Other members include two young rising stars in the Legislature: state Sen. P.K. Martin of Lawrenceville and state Rep. Chuck Efstration of Dacula.

Echols said the group will meet Sunday and give each member 30 days to “review and synthesize results” to report back to Cagle. 


Let the consolidation continue: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms gave a strong endorsement of Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor over the weekend. Bottoms never formally took sides in the Democratic primary for governor, but donated to former state Rep. Stacey Evans. The mayor’s allies often noted how Abrams never backed Bottoms in her mayoral bid.

Either way, both sides seem ready to move on. Bottoms congratulated Abrams shortly after her whopping primary victory over Evans and has since contributed to her campaign. And on Sunday she took the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church to tout Abrams. From Buzzfeed’s write-up of her remarks: 

"It’s not enough that we have elected African American mayors across this country. But there’s an opportunity to change this world with our election in November ... What I will say is this: When you go and vote, remember there’s a woman on the ballot named Stacey."


Stacey Abrams’ campaign had what it called an epic canvassing weekend, reaching out to more than 100,000 voters on Saturday with several grassroots events. It held information sessions in about a dozen cities across the state that attracted about 700 volunteers - one-third of whom were new to her campaign. 


Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has plans to huddle this afternoon with Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. The third-term Republican hasn’t said how he’ll vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, but both he and Perdue sounded positive notes about the D.C. Circuit Court judge when he was nominated last week.


Speaking of Kavanaugh, WABE reports that he heard a case involving Georgia’s water rights battle with Florida and Alabama more than a decade ago. 


Meanwhile, the U.S. House will start voting today on a spending bill for financial services-related agencies authored by U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger. The must-pass measure would provide fresh funding for the IRS, courts system and financial regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. It also would bring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Obama-era agency much loathed by the GOP, under the control of Congress and create a new kind of deficit-reduction fund. Graves has been rolling out promo videos featuring GOP colleagues on his Twitter field all week, including one with Cassville Republican Barry Loudermilk


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