In a recording released Monday by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle says the GOP primary for governor “felt like it was who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.” Cagle made the secretly recorded comments to Clay Tippins, the fourth-place finisher in the primary, only days after the contest. Cagle faces Kemp in the July 24 GOP runoff. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

In recording, Cagle called GOP race a contest to be ‘the craziest’

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the biggest vote-getter in May’s GOP primary for governor, said in a secretly recorded conversation that the race seemed to be a contest over “who could be the craziest.”

The recording by Clay Tippins emerged Monday, another snippet from a meeting he held with Cagle days after the primary.

Tippins, who finished fourth in the primary, made public a portion of that conversation in June, but Monday’s release came from Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s campaign.

Kemp faces Cagle in the July 24 GOP runoff.

In the 50-second recording, Cagle talks to Tippins about the party’s shift to the right in the primary.

“The issues you talk about are the issues I care about as well. The problem is in a primary - and you and I are just talking off the record frank - they don’t give a (expletive) about those things. OK. In the general election, they care about it. OK. But they don’t care about it in a primary. This primary felt like it was who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.”

It’s unclear what triggered his remarks, but they echo a longer piece of the recording that Tippins released.

In that audio, Cagle said he backed expanding a private school tax credit that was bad in a “thousand different ways” to prevent another rival, former state Sen. Hunter Hill, from gaining outside support from a key charter school advocacy group.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp emerged as the top finalists in Tuesday's election.

Kemp said through a spokesman that the recording released Monday “exposes Cagle’s real opinion of Republican voters in Georgia,” and he linked the lieutenant governor’s comments to those of Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election that described some of Republican Donald Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.”

Cagle campaign manager Scott Binkley, in a statement, defended what’s said in the recording, saying it shows that Cagle “called Brian Kemp out on” for his responsibility in defining the tenor of the campaign.

“Casey talked policy,” Binkley said. “Kemp talked crazy.”

He also called for further distribution of the recording by Kemp’s campaign.

“Share the transcript. PLEASE,” Binkley said in the statement. “We have nothing to hide.

“We want people to see the truth about what Casey said. We don’t need any more evidence that Brian Kemp lies about everything, but he keeps providing more proof, even when it’s provable that he’s not telling the truth.”

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