The Public Record: Casey Cagle on the race to be the ‘craziest’

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The Players: More audio of a secretly recorded conversation in May between Casey Cagle and fellow republican Clay Tippins. This portion of the recording was released by Brian Kemp’s campaign. So, your players in this one are all republicans, Cagle and Kemp are running against each other in the July runoff and Tippins is a former gubernatorial candidate who lost in the May 22 primary. 

The Background: The audio clip released by the Kemp campaign is part of a larger conversationrecorded by Tippins without Cagle’s knowledge, so their conversation was not initially public, but has been made public. This is the second piece of audio from this conversation that has been released. In the first release, Cagle admitted to supporting a bad bill in his role as Lieutenant Governor because it would harm a political opponent.

In the newly released portion of audio, Cagle claims voters don’t care about policy in the primary and that the primary race has been a race to see who is ‘craziest.’

The Quote: Below is a transcript and the audio of what Cagle said. Remember, this audio was released by Cagle’s political opponent and the audio does not provide the context or the conversation that occurred immediately before and after the snippet that was released. Here is the quote:

“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 s— about those things. Okay? In the general election, they care about it. Okay? 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, you know, and who could be the craziest. Right? That’s what it felt like.”

And here is the audio for you to hear for yourself.

Kemp’s Spin: The Kemp campaign claims that this recording shows that Cagle looks down on republican voters and doesn’t think highly of other members of his own party. In a post on its Facebook page, the Kemp campaign went so far as to compare Cagle to Hillary Clinton:

“Like Hillary Clinton, Casey Cagle thinks the electorate is a basket of deplorables who lack the intelligence and attention span to comprehend all of the high-level policy proposals that he’s saving for the General Election. In reality, it’s Cagle who doesn’t care about policy.”

Cagle’s Spin: The Cagle campaign claims that the audio isn’t about voters, but is a direct reference to Brian Kemp’s campaign tactics. In a lengthy statement about the recording, Cagle’s campaign manager Scott Binkley accused Kemp of running a crazy campaign filled with gimmicks. Here is a portion of Binkley’s comments:

“Powder blue tuxedos. Strip clubs. Pointing guns at kids. Blowing things up. It’s silliness. Some might say ‘crazy.’ No, scratch that, nearly everybody would say it’s crazy. While Brian Kemp’s ad campaign was admitting that he apparently had no qualifications for governor beyond owning a truck, Casey Cagle was talking about creating 600,000 jobs with Gov. Deal, College and Career Academies and helping struggling parents who need options beyond foster care.”

Who stands to benefit?: In an already close and contentious runoff campaign, this recording might actually benefit  both republican candidates. Kemp is banking on the recording not sitting well with conservative republicans and Donald Trump supporters. On the other hand, moderate republicans who didn’t turn out to vote for Trump may take some solace in Cagle’s analysis of the primary’s run to the right.

If Cagle wins the runoff, the recording will make it difficult for democratic opponent Stacey Abrams to group Cagle with far-right republicans. However, it could ultimately harm Cagle in November if Kemp’s voters see him as not sharing their values and stay home.

Your Take: What’s your opinion? Do you agree with Cagle’s assessment of the race, or do you agree with Kemp that the recording shows Cagle has disdain for the republican electorate? Share your thoughts in the poll question and comments below.