Georgia Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp stopped in Murray County to stump among voters early this week, the same day his campaign released a second secret recording that continues to shake up Georgia's Republican primary runoff.
The campaign of opponent Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle already was working to answer questions regarding the release last month of a secretly recorded conversation between Cagle and former gubernatorial candidate Clay Tippins, in which Cagle can be heard saying that he supported what he termed "bad public policy" for political gain.
According to published reports, Cagle can be heard discussing the GOP primary, 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 on Monday that the newly released recording "exposes Cagle's real opinion of Republican voters in Georgia."
Cagle says those comments are being taken out of context, and as a private conversation should never have been made public. His campaign told news outlets on Monday that his comments were not aimed at Georgia voters, but at "his crazy opponents' campaign, full of gimmicks and devoid of substance."
Several dozen Kemp supporters showed up at Spring Valley Gold Club during a stop on his 37-day bus tour across the state. This was the second time this year that Kemp has visited Murray County to meet potential voters; so far, no other 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate has made a personal appearance here.
The runoff between Cagle and Kemp will be decided July 24. The winner of the GOP runoff on July 24 will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in November.
"I've visited all 159 counties in Georgia," said Kemp, who is being accompanied on the Putting Georgia First bus tour by his wife Marti and daughters Jarrett, 19; Lucy, 17; and Amy Porter, 15. "Each one has its own issues, and the people there know that the status quo is no longer good enough. We need a governor who can strengthen the rural counties in this state."
Kemp touted his Four-Point Plan for improving Georgia at the Murray County event and pointed to his track record of garnering grass-roots support, as opposed to Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.
"I've taken on Stacey Abrams before, and I know we can win," said Kemp. "Already, we are seeing that her campaign contributions are coming mainly from outside the state, from California and New York."
Tennessee Secretary of State Trey Harget drove three hours on his own time and at his own expense to introduce his colleague to the Murray County crowd.
"Brian lives by a core set of values that do not change," said Harget. "He is tenacious and steadfast. The last thing the people of Georgia need is a leader who just waves in the wind."
"The future of your great state is on the line," he added.
While issues will continue to be discussed, it's the secret recordings that could capture the headlines.
According to published reports, the recording was captured without Cagle's knowledge by
Tippins just days after the May 22 primary in Georgia. Those reports state that Tippins secretly recorded the private conversation at Cagle's campaign office on a phone hidden in his coat pocket, then provided a longer piece of the recording to local media outlets.
Cagle was quoted, in part, as saying, "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 frankly — 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 secretly recorded conversation, Cagle was seeking Tippins' endorsement for the governor's race. As of press time, Tippins has not formally endorsed either runoff candidate.
Asked whether more recordings may be released before the July 24 election, 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."
The Atlanta Journal reported today that there are now two more independent calls for an investigation of Brian Kemp. A Cobb County prosecutor is calling on Georgia’s Attorney General to investigate after Kemp failed to take any action against massage therapists who sexually assaulted their customers. Despite these serious charges, Kemp has refused to investigate any of the dozens of complaints filed by victims, and has instead swept them under the rug. This leaves the perpetrators free to continue to work in the massage business, putting innocent Georgians at risk every day.
Even worse, one of Georgia’s two female state Senators has asked the U.S. Attorney to investigate the circumstances around an illegal fundraiser that Kemp held at the home of the owner of one of the massage businesses that he regulates. This was the very same business where sexual assaults against massage customers occurred.