ATLANTA (AP) — Another secret recording is shaking up Georgia’s Republican primary runoff in the governor’s race.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign was already rocked last month by the release of a secretly recorded conversation in which Cagle said he backed what he called “bad public policy” for political gain. Cagle’s runoff opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, released another snippet of that conversation Monday.
In this 50-second piece , Cagle can be heard candidly discussing the GOP primary’s sharp turn to the right, saying the five-man race came down to “who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck and who could be the craziest.”
Kemp said in a statement to the AP on Monday that the newly released recording “exposes Cagle’s real opinion of Republican voters in Georgia.”
Cagle has called his talk with former candidate for governor Clay Tippins a private conversation that was never meant to become public, and says it’s being taken out of context.
His campaign said Monday that the comments were not aimed at Georgia voters, but at “his crazy opponents’ campaign, full of gimmicks and devoid of substance.”
Kemp has garnered his own strong criticism — and national headlines — for a series of provocative television ads ran during the primary. In one ad, Kemp holds a shotgun and pretends to threaten a young man interested in his daughter. In another, Kemp says “I got a big truck,” as he slams the door on a pickup, “just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.”
“Pointing guns at kids. Blowing things up. It’s silliness. Some might say ‘crazy.’ No, scratch that, nearly everybody would say it’s crazy,” Cagle’s campaign said.
The recording was captured without Cagle’s knowledge by Tippins just days after the May 22 primary in which Cagle and Kemp beat out Tippins and two others. Tippins secretly recorded the private conversation at Cagle’s campaign office on a phone hidden in his coat pocket, and provided a longer piece of the recording to local media outlets.
“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.” Cagle says in the newly released snippet.
At the time of the conversation, Cagle was seeking Tippins’ endorsement. Tippins has yet to formally endorse either runoff candidate.
Asked by The Associated Press whether the Kemp campaign has still more snippets it’s holding onto, Kemp spokesman, Ryan Mahoney, said: “We will continue to create a clear contrast between Kemp and Cagle in the weeks leading up to Election Day on July 24th.”
Cagle accused Kemp of “taking part in dirty politics” over the release.
The runoff between Cagle and Kemp will be decided July 24. The winner will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in November.