By: Casey Cagle
There’s nothing in a Republican primary runoff that’s more crushing than having the President endorse your opponent less than a week before the election. It was a kick in the gut, and particularly so because during the 2016 election I supported President Trump against Hillary Clinton and my opponent did not. The fact is the President doesn’t know my opponent at all. Georgians like Governor Deal who know us both are voting for me. The President decided to do this because some Washington insiders who have weaseled their way into his ear convinced him to make a power play. Why? So they’ll have a Governor who answers to them instead of to Georgians.
I’ve been kicked in the gut before, though. My dad left when I was a little boy, and by the time I was ten, I was helping my mom pay the bills by pushing a lawnmower around town. I’ve been fighting every step of the way since I can remember, and I’m not going to stop fighting just because some guys in Washington think they have the right to pick Georgia’s next Governor with a tweet.
I support the work our President is doing in Washington. I’m proud to have him there standing up for America, and I’ll campaign for him in two years just as hard as I did two years ago. I’ll do it because it is the right thing for America, and whether he made the right choice or the wrong choice in this race isn’t going to change my mind on that.
However, this presents a question that everyone voting in the runoff ought to think about long and hard: do you want a Governor who takes his orders from Washington insiders, or one who takes his orders from Georgians? Make no mistake about it, if the pundits are right and Brian Kemp wins this election, then he will owe his entire success to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There’s a reason the Constitution provides for strong separation between the state and federal governments, and the wisdom of the people who wrote it is no less valid today.
But what does that mean for us, here and now? I’ll give you an example … it means that if trade policy wrecks auto manufacturing, port traffic and agriculture in Georgia, Brian Kemp will be powerless to stand up for us. That’s a very real concern for hundreds of thousands of Georgians who count on these industries to pay their mortgages. If Brian Kemp is Governor, he’ll be having a press conference to cheer on the White House as jobs leave our state. Whether he agrees or not, he won’t have a choice. As for me, I’ll support the President when his policies are right for Georgia, and I’ll oppose policies that are wrong for Georgia. And it will be my hope that I do a lot more supporting than opposing. The decision Georgia voters must make is which type of Governor we want to elect.
Most Republican primary campaigns would be demolished by the President endorsing the other side. Georgia has a moment in this election, a moment to be an exception, a moment to shock the world, by proving that no one other than Georgia voters will decide who our next Governor will be.
In an effort to win this race at all costs, my opponent has embraced absolutely anyone willing to support him. Today, a State Representative who is one of Kemp’s top supporters was videotaped yelling racial slurs at the top of his lungs and running in circles with his pants down. Speaker David Ralston and I called for his immediate resignation. We didn’t have to think about it, agonize over it, or mince words: we just did it because it was the right thing to do.
What did Brian Kemp do when confronted by this information? He issued a careful statement saying he’s taking Jason Spencer’s name off his materials and he thinks it would be “nice” if he apologized. This guy insults every Georgian on national TV, and the best thing Brian can think of to do is reprint some campaign materials without his name on them? A better question: why was his name ever on them in the first place, and what kind of voters is Brian going after by not demanding that Spencer resign?
Unfortunately, this isn’t one mistake … It is part of a pattern. We’ve all seen Kemp’s ads where he points a shotgun at a teenager and tells voters he’s going to spend his time in office driving around in a pickup truck looking for illegals to toss in the back. We’ve read reports that he joked about groping women without realizing there was a reporter in the room. And, we’ve see him embrace Senator Michael Williams, the nutjob who posed for photos with a militia group and embarrassed our state by driving around a “Deportation Bus.”
I hope and pray that we live in a state where being a conservative does not mean you have to hug racists, be a jerk to women, or blindly follow orders from Washington in order to win an election.
I oppose illegal immigration, but I’ve done it with serious policy proposals that actually make a difference. I support Second Amendment rights, and I passed legislation to expand those rights instead of violating the first rule of gun safety on television. I’ve also expanded career education for kids, recruited jobs to Georgia, passed a balanced budget, improved our transportation infrastructure and passed the first income tax cut in state history. If elected, I’ve pledged to cut income taxes across the board, slash government spending, put tough work requirements on welfare, recruit more jobs to Georgia, expand career education, support our film industry and eliminate taxes on military retirement. These are the issues that normal, hard-working Georgians actually care about because these are the issues that make a real difference in our lives. That’s why Governor Deal is standing with us.
Am I perfect? Heck no. I make mistakes every day, sometimes so many that I can’t count them on two hands. I may well be making a mistake by being this honest with voters as I write this. If you’ve been paying attention to this election, you’ve seen every mistake I’ve made on full display, just as you should. And do you know what that makes me? A normal person.
I know this: I don’t want to win this election badly enough to embrace racists and point a gun at a teenager on TV to get there. And, I have enough faith in Georgia Republicans to believe I’m not the only person who feels this way.
You can’t find a pundit in America who thinks we are going to win this race on Tuesday. They think President Trump owns Republicans voters, and that you’ll robotically do anything he instructs without thinking about it. You’ve got a choice tomorrow: you can prove them wrong. You can vote for a strong conservative who supports our President, but won’t make Georgia his second priority. You can vote for a strong conservative with principles and a record, who won’t embarrass our state. You can vote for a candidate who will win in November, or one who will lose. The choice, as it always does when the dust settles, rests entirely with you.