Just days away from the run-off election for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, the people of north Georgia had an opportunity to meet and greet candidate Casey Cagle at a campaign bus tour rally Thursday night hosted at Reid Barn in south Forsyth.
According to Cagle's director of communications, Joe Hendricks, the rally was the final stop in a day-long tour through the north Georgia area to meet voters and drum up support for the lieutenant governor before the voting ends Tuesday. Cagle has been in a close fight for the nomination with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The winner will face former state representative Stacey Abrams in the November general election.
Several state and community leaders were in attendance at the event, including state Sen. David Shafer, sole Forsyth County District 1 Commissioner candidate Molly Cooper and a host of former county officials.
But before Cagle stepped up to the microphone, he was introduced by Richard Lee, founding pastor of First Redeemer Church, who called Cagle a "man of integrity" and praised his efforts to "lift up the downtrodden."
Lee also addressed the elephant in the room — President Donald Trump's recent endorsement of candidate Kemp.
"It’s amazing the tour Casey is taking all over this state, but there's going to be another tour I predict, in about six to eight months, and that tour is going to be some cats from Washington who come down here to apologize," he said.
And after thanking a few people and pulling his wife Nita up to the platform with him, Cagle stated how happy he was to be back in Forsyth County, saying he "could not be more energized."
"I do not believe for one minute that Georgia is ready to let Washington D.C decide who the next governor is going to be," Cagle said.
He explained that while he admires the president and his help over the last several years, he valued the endorsement of Gov. Nathan Deal highest of all.
"Gov. Deal knows the state of Georgia ... He has been up, down, side to side and he knows his state," Cagle said. "There is no one that I would rather have their endorsement than our great governer, Nathan Deal."
Cagle spoke for several minutes about the things he has been able to accomplish economically during his time in office, including bringing jobs to Georgia, cutting taxes and making the state more business-friendly.
He also stated that if elected, he would strive to create 500,000 jobs within the first four years of his administration.
"That doesn't happen by accident, it takes real leadership, it takes someone with a vision, someone that's willing to get in the trenches and do what's necessary to bring jobs to this state," he said. "I want to make sure that we are building a world-class work force that is second to none."
Cagle also spoke about the problems he sees in government programs like welfare, saying that the state has "too many able-bodied individuals that are sitting at home collecting a government check."
"When I'm governor, that's coming to an end," he said. "We're going to have drug testing and we are going to have work requirements for those individuals."
After the speakers, Cooper stated that she thought the event had gone wonderfully, calling it an important part of the process.
She explained that the main reason she attended the rally was because she truly believes in Cagle's track record and what he has planned for the future.
"He is the most innovative (candidate)rr," she said. "He has done wonders for education and will continue to do wonders for education. This is the man that we need in office."