A week before the vote, the knives sharpen in Georgia gov race

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Republicans Hunter Hill and Clay Tippins were slammed with hit-pieces and shadowy web attacks a week before the primary vote. And though it’s unclear who was behind them, both candidates for governor blamed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s supporters.

Hill, a former state senator, was a targeted with a two-pronged attack ahead of the May 22 vote: A mailer labeling him a "convenient conservative" that claims he's switched views on abortion, gun rights and President Donald Trump. And a website asserting "he'll say anything to get elected."

Tippins, a business executive, is depicted as a "con man" who has "no business being governor" in a web takedown. The site also criticizes his role as the head of a U.S. division of a European technology and outsourcing firm.

Each of the attacks don’t offer information about who is responsible for the content. But the Hill mailer includes a return address matching the same building housing Cagle’s campaign office. That could just be a misdirection, too.

Either way, Hill and Tippins have struck back in Cagle’s direction, blaming a pro-Cagle outside group called Citizens for Georgia’s Future for the assault.

The organization has already spent more than $1 million on ads boosting Cagle and had earlier hinted that it would start spending money to shape the race for the second spot in a likely July runoff.

Hill spokesman Cody Hall said “no amount of mudslinging from Cagle’s swamp creatures can cover up his failed record and weak leadership.” And a Tippins ally filed an ethics complaint against the group, claiming it violated state rules by directly advocating for the defeat of a candidate.

A spokesman for the group said it was not responsible for the attacks.

“We haven’t attacked anybody - yet,” said Dan McLagan. “This is a bunch of guys who have lousy records and worse campaigns who are about to get creamed pointing fingers at everybody but themselves. They look silly.”

Read more recent AJC coverage of the campaign for governor:

ExploreNational forces help shape Georgia governor’s race 
ExploreEarly voting slow, but Democrats gaining on Republicans in Georgia 
ExploreShifting political ground pushes Georgia candidates away from center 
ExploreAbrams, Evans sharpen attacks over HOPE in gov forum 
ExploreGeorgia 2018: Evans bets on gambling as new divide in gov race 
ExploreAbrams banks on debt as advantage in final stretch of gov race 
ExploreBrian Kemp: His pitch to conservatives leans hard on law and order 
ExploreClay Tippins: Executive aims to send waves through governor’s race 
ExploreMichael Williams: Senator has been Trump backer with similar tactics 
ExploreWhy Georgia Republicans are shifting to the right on guns 
ExploreHunter Hill: Military vet wages running war on ‘career politicians’ 
ExploreCasey Cagle: A GOP favorite tries to fend off conservative attack 
ExploreHow Gov. Deal is influencing the race to succeed him 

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