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Clemons: Kemp has momentum on his side
Casey Cagle has the look of a candidate who ran out of steam
Casey Cagle
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle speaks during the dedication of the John K. Wilkinson Hall at the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center in Covington, Ga., on Thursday morning, July 19, 2018. - photo by David Clemons

If I’m wrong, Casey Cagle will have his Harry S. Truman moment Tuesday night, and The Covington News will join The Chicago Tribune in newspaper infamy.

You probably know the picture I’m referring to: Truman was elected in 1948 in such an upset over Thomas Dewey that the Chicago paper printed its first edition with the banner headline DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.

But I’m feeling pretty confident Cagle won’t win the governor’s race in November because I expect Brian Kemp to have an outstanding day Tuesday.

Kemp, the secretary of state, has Big Mo — momentum, that is — on his side. I’ve felt that way for a while now, even before President Donald Trump shook up this race with his tweet of endorsement for Kemp on Wednesday.

Kemp began to separate himself from the pack of five candidates in the GOP field with the “Jake” ad, featuring an actor portraying a young man seeking to date one of Kemp’s daughters.

Every bit of criticism lobbed Kemp’s way just added fuel to the fire. Now he proudly wears the title of “politically incorrect conservative,” and he’s going to ride it all the way to the nomination.

Cagle came to Newton County on Thursday for the dedication of the John K. Wilkinson Hall at the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center. Although Cagle’s remarks weren’t political — and in fact were kind of touching about the people who believed in him during his youth — he just seemed off to me. Not to borrow a Trumpism, but Cagle was “low energy.”

I wonder now if, on his campaign bus on the ride down here, he and his staff got the news of a Fox 5 poll showing Kemp breaking out to a lead of 55 percent to 37 percent.

Or, perhaps they heard rumors, later confirmed, that Vice President Mike Pence would be coming to Macon on Saturday to campaign for Kemp.

Whatever it was, I can’t help feeling bad for Cagle. He’s wanted this position for, I’d guess, his whole life. He was elected lieutenant governor in an upset in 2006 and many thought he’d run for an open seat at governor in 2010. But, for whatever reason, he bided his time in the No. 2 role while his fellow Hall County resident Nathan Deal broke from a crowded field to win.

Deal has seen the state through some very tough times and passing the torch to Cagle would have been seamless. Instead, though, Kemp came in with his chainsaw and big ol’ truck to upend change everything.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill crossed the state line to campaign for Kemp recently and told the crowd Trump could thank Kemp for his election. Kemp spearheaded the “SEC primary” of Southern states in March 2016 which cemented Trump as the clear frontrunner two years ago.

Trump returned the favor in a big way. Now the only thing left to do is vote.

And then we must steel ourselves for what will be the ugliest, loudest campaign in modern Georgia history.

David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is Twitter: @scoopclemons.