Democrat Jason Carter unleashed a new line of attack against Republican Gov. Nathan Deal after the release of a federal report showing that only Mississippi has a worse unemployment rate than Georgia.
Carter's campaign rolled out the above video and quickly arranged a telephone press conference to target the governor over the report, which documented more than 370,000 unemployed workers in Georgia - an increase of 17,000 from the previous month. Carter, a state senator, called the increase shameful and repeated his call for a renewed focus on education.
"Georgia has every ingredient to be a powerhouse but we're not putting them together in a way that makes sense. And the governor doesn't get it," said Carter. "He's still declaring victory and that, to me, is unacceptable."
Deal's campaign said the July increase is due to temporary seasonal layoffs, such as school bus drivers who have gone back to work. Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber said Carter's agenda would only be harmful to the economy - "job-killing tax hikes" was the phrase she used. The Democrat has said tax increases are off the table but hasn't said specifically how he would boost education funding.
Carter, for his part, said he would support incentives and tax breaks for companies moving to Georgia or expanding operations here, but that he would spurn what he called Deal's "grab bag" philosophy for those perks. He also pledged to ensure more incentives for smaller businesses, though he offered no specifics on how he would do that.
"Gov. Deal has just not articulated any vision at all. It's a grab-bag of economic incentives. The key is investing in the workforce," he said, later adding: "You have to build an economy and it needs a little bit of time. But right now we haven't been building that economy. There's nothing out there that shows us we're moving in the right direction."
Deal's campaign pointed to unemployment figures that showed the jobless rate in Georgia fell each year Deal has served, from more than 10 percent to below 8 percent. And it cited a March 2012 AJC article, when the nation's jobless rate was around 8.2 percent, that quoted Carter saying the state "is going to be incredibly competitive."
"When Carter predicted our state would be “incredibly competitive,” he was right. Gov. Deal's low tax, pro-jobs approach has worked and we've become the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business."