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What They’re Saying: Georgia GOP ‘Sharpens Knives’ Ahead of ‘Bruising’ Runoff

What They’re Saying: Georgia GOP ‘Sharpens Knives’ Ahead of ‘Bruising’ Runoff


Kemp and Cagle Attacking Each Other on Day One

The runoff between Brian Kemp and Casey Cagle isn’t even a day old, and Georgia voters are already bracing themselves for an ugly campaign. The candidates have two months to court the ultra-conservative GOP primary voters, and they both wasted no time attacking their opponent’s conservative credentials. Over the last year, both candidates have staked out a number of far-right positions that threaten the state’s business climate, which has prompted several public scoldings from GOP Gov. Nathan Deal. That’s sure to continue as the runoff exposes them for extreme politicians they really are.

The gap one election night between Cagle and Kemp was closer than most expected, so it’s truly anyone’s race for the taking. It will just come down to who’s willing to out-crazy the other.

Here’s a roundup of the coverage of the nasty runoff that’s just heating up:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Republicans face infighting while Democrats work on unity


Georgia Republicans braced for what’s sure to be a combative nine-week runoff for the state’s top office, while Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams quickly began to rally her party around her after emerging relatively unscathed from her primary.


…The contrast with Republicans was striking. Secretary of State Brian Kemp branded Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, whom he’ll face in a July 24 runoff, as a “puppet” of special interests who is soft on conservative issues. Cagle talked about opponents who rely on “gimmicks, hot air and false attacks.”

Gainesville Times: Casey Cagle faces tough competition from Brian Kemp in Republican runoff for governor

The results are likely to cause some concern among the Cagle camp, who hoped for the lieutenant governor to finish with at least more than 40 percent of the vote as a show of force moving into a runoff.


The secretary of state also blasted Cagle with both barrels in his speech in Athens, calling Cagle a “puppet” of special interest who “twisted every arm at the state Capitol he could find.”

Atlanta Patch: Dems Team Up, GOP Sharpens Knives In GA Governor’s Race

On the Republican side, there was no such lovefest.


The top two GOP candidates to replace outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal — Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp — both fell short of 50 percent of the vote in a five-way race and head into what could be a bruising, two-month runoff to determine who will face Abrams.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Here comes the GOP race for governor, Part II


As for Kemp, we can’t help but remember his question to Clay Tippins, who finished out of the money on Tuesday, in the final GOP gubernatorial debate. How do you suppose Cagle makes his living? Kemp asked Tippins — who professed that, gosh, he didn’t know. Cagle protested what he said was a low blow, but that may be where this race is headed.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Cagle, Kemp headed to runoff for GOP nomination


 The Republican race featured what seemed like a constant effort by the candidates to outdo one another with soaring campaign promises to cut or eliminate taxes and new initiatives to expand gun rights or crack down on illegal immigration.


But guns were far from the only social conservative strain that factored into the competition. Most of the candidates agreed to support “religious liberty” legislation that Deal vetoed, tussled over who would pass the staunchest abortion restrictions and tried to one-up each other on immigration policy. 


New York Times: Can Stacey Abrams Change the Way Democrats Win in the South?


The interval between the primary and the runoff means that for the next two months, Mr. Cagle and Mr. Kemp will have to focus on appealing to the state’s very conservative Republican primary voters. Meanwhile, Ms. Abrams can work to heal the wounds that were opened during the rather nasty Democratic primary race and attack the Republican candidates.