ATLANTA -- The two Republicans running for governor are fighting again over guns. Both Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp have endorsements from second amendment groups. But Cagle has found a vote that, he claims, shows Kemp is soft on gun rights.
Fifteen years ago, Democrats still ran the state Capitol. And back then, two Republicans serving in the state Senate were Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp.
In March 2003, a bill came up in the Senate to loosen gun restrictions during declared states of emergency. Cagle voted to allow a floor vote. Kemp voted to table the gun bill, preventing it from coming to a vote.
"This looks like one of those procedural votes on some sort of arcane legislative process that happened fifteen years ago," said GOP consultant Mike Hassinger, who says he's a strong supporter of the second amendment and isn't backing either candidate. "It doesn’t diminish my personal opinion of Brian Kemp."
Try telling that to Cagle.
"Kemp voted to ban the sale and transportation of firearms during a state of emergency," a narrator intones darkly during a TV commercial released Wednesday by Cagle's campaign. The ad paints Kemp as soft on gun rights and -- of all things—in cahoots with Democrats while serving in the Senate. "Brian Kemp is with them, not with us," the narrator concludes.
Kemp’s affinity for gun rights was a persistent advertising message as he sought votes in the Republican primary. His campaign issued a statement saying in part: “Brian Kemp is rock-solid on protecting, promoting, and expanding our 2nd Amendment rights. That's why he's endorsed by Georgia Carry, Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation, and has an A Rating with the NRA."
Hassinger thinks both Republicans will nitpick over gun rights between now and the July runoff. "The second amendment is very important to voters. They react emotionally when it comes up as an issue," Hassinger said.
Except when they don’t. Of that vote 15 years ago, John Monroe of Georgia Carry, a pro-gun group that has endorsed Kemp, told us: “I don’t view it as mattering.”
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