Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

The Jolt: ‘We deserved better,’ hometown paper says of Casey Cagle recording


Many, but not all, Republicans have rallied to the side of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, whose campaign for governor was shaken last week when a recording made by fourth-place finisher Clay Tippins caught the GOP frontrunner in a quintessential gaffe.

In other words, Tippins’ activated smart phone caught Cagle telling the truth about a forbidden subject.

Among Cagle’s harshest weekend critics was his hometown newspaper, the Gainesville Times, which on Sunday noted that the lieutenant governor had shown himself too willing to sacrifice an off-stated priority. “One can only imagine what he will do on all the issues he cares less about,” the Times editorial read.

In that surreptitious recording, Cagle admitted that he had pushed through “bad” tax credit legislation over the objections of Lindsey Tippins, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and uncle to Clay Tippins. The lieutenant governor’s reason: A charter school foundation had threatened to bankroll rival gubernatorial candidate Hunter Hill. From the Times editorial:

Cagle is one of our own, but it is hard not to wonder if he hasn’t spent so much time wheeling and dealing under the dome of the state Capitol that he’s sacrificed personal convictions to the altar of political expediency.

There are those who will feel that, as his hometown newspaper, we should not admonish the lieutenant governor for his words and deeds. To them we paraphrase in saying, “this is not about Casey, it’s just about politics.”

We expected better. We deserved better.

Republicans in Hall County, by the by, gave Cagle 49 percent of their votes in the May 22 primary. 

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The AJC’s Aaron Holmes caught a Saturday appearance by Casey Cagle in Hall County. The lieutenant governor received a warm welcome, but several of those attending admitted to being unsettled by the recording.

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It’s still no formal endorsement, but Gov. Nathan Deal’s top adviser might as well have given one to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

While the governor declined to comment about the secret recording of Cagle revealing he supported “bad public policy” to hurt a rival, his chief of staff Chris Riley chimed in with tacit support of the Republican front-runner.

“Politics is baked into everything Georgia! Successful policy is marrying the two for the good of all Georgia,” he said in a tweet. 

@GovernorDeal and myself are committed to transitioning our state to a proven leader, who will continue our state’s success over the last 8 years.”

He added a hashtag aimed at Cagle, who is the more mainstream Republican in the July 24 runoff against Secretary of State Brian Kemp:  #campaigntogovern

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Former Georgia congressman Lynn Westmoreland, who has endorsed Cagle, had more concrete words about the tape.

“I’ve had plenty of private, closed-door political discussions, and the fact that Casey Cagle had one doesn’t change my support for him to be governor,” said Westmoreland. “What I have changed my mind on is the character of the fourth-place finisher.”

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Another Republican sticking with Casey Cagle is Tim Echols, a member of the state Public Service Commission who’s not up for re-election this year. From his Twitter feed:

“To my evangelical friends. I am still with Casey. I am still with Trump. Action is more important to me than words or rhetoric. Cagle started the College & Career Academy Network – which is achieving graduation rates of 98 percent. He promotes charity clinics. He is pro-life.”

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From the endorsement band wagon:

--Former congressman and Trump cabinet secretary Tom Price is dipping his toe back into Georgia politics. He’s endorsed state Sen. David Shafer of Duluth, in the Republican primary runoff for lieutenant governor. Shafer faces Republican House member Geoff Duncan.

-- In the Democratic primary runoff for the Seventh District congressional contest, defeated candidate Steve Reilly has endorsed Carolyn Bourdeaux. Also in the Gwinnett County-based runoff: David Kim.

Reilly is a former chairman of the Seventh District Democratic party.

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On Friday evening, Joe Biden’s book tour made a stop in Atlanta, where the former vice president appeared on stage with U.S. Rep. John Lewis. 

The national tour is seen as a potential warm-up act for a Biden run for the presidency, and Lewis offered him some encouragement. 

“I hope and pray you will continue to fight,” said the Atlanta Democrat.

At the end of the event, one audience member shouted to the 75-year-old: “Will you run?”

Biden smiled, but did not answer.

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We’re late in addressing this, but last Wednesday, on the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, President Donald Trump signed the VA Mission Act, which authorizes and expands veterans’ access to private health care.

In many, many photos of the Rose Garden ceremony, something very specific is missing: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who was one of the primary authors of the biggest veterans affairs package to escape Congress in years.

After much searching we finally found a photo which, if blown up, one can see what is probably the back Isakson’s head. The senator was pushed so far off to the side that he might have been mistaken for an usher.

One might attribute such treatment to the fact that the White House is still ticked at the reception given to Trump’s failed nominee to head the VA, Ronny Jackson, by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, which Isakson chairs.

On the other hand, perhaps the White House simply didn’t want to share the credit. 

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Over the weekend, we heard and read many salutes and appreciations of Anthony Bourdain, the food and travel philosopher who died last week by his own hand. None was quite as good as the 2015 video clip sent us by former state senator Don Balfour, in which Bourdain catches the uniqueness of a Southern institution, the Waffle House. This was the intro:

“It is indeed marvelous – an irony-free zone where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. Where everybody – regardless of race, creed, color or degree of inebriation – is welcomed. Its warm, yellow glow is a beacon of hope and salvation, inviting the hungry, the lost, the seriously hammered all across the South, to come inside. A place of safety and nourishment.”

Balfour, of course, is a Waffle House executive and thus slightly prejudiced. A bit of the video:

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And finally, we have this bit of extraordinarily good news: Jamie Dupree of WSB -- who lost his voice and hasn’t been heard from in nearly two years -- will be back on the air, thanks to a computer synthesizer program that will reproduce his voice from years and years of past recordings. Dupree has the details here.

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