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Casey Cagle launches campaign for governor in Duluth
Furquan Stafford, back right, hands out Casey Cagle campaign stickers at Cagle’s campaign launch on Sunday in Duluth. Stafford said he’s supporting Cagle because the lieutenant governor helped him to get a resolution through the state Senate in 2016 that supported more minority ownership of plasma centers in the United States.

DULUTH — Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle launched his 2018 campaign for governor before a crowd of more than 600 at Infinite Energy Theater on Sunday.

As he entered the race to replace outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal, Cagle talked about his economic proposals, including a plan to pass a $100 million tax cut in his first 100 days, a goal to create 500,000 jobs in his first term and a call for infrastructure spending in the state.

“It’s time for us to be big. It’s time for us to be bold as a state. I mean, Georgia is the capital of the South,” Cagle said after his campaign launch. “And I’m going to be a governor that’s going to lead with passion, with clarity and a decisive mind.”

The lieutenant governor, first elected in 2006, also played up his bipartisan and Atlanta bona fides on Sunday, when he was introduced by Atlanta broadcasting fixture — and registered Democrat — Monica Pearson.

Pearson told the crowd she had come to know Cagle through his work on Georgia’s public education system and his book, “Education Unleashed.” Cagle, too, was most passionate during his speech when discussing his work on education reform and his campaign promises on education.

But Pearson launched her introduction of Cagle by talking about their common background as children of single mothers.

“We share so much despite our obvious differences,” Pearson said. “Our mothers raised us alone after their husbands left. Both moms — his mom, Ms. Ginette, and my mom, Ms. Hattie — worked two jobs and said ‘no’ to public assistance and ‘yes’ to hard work.”

Cagle also hit the sentimental notes, telling the audience that he understood the concerns of a wide swath of Georgia’s populace.

“I know what’s it like to attend eight different elementary schools by the time you reach the sixth grade,” Cagle said. “I know what it’s like to live in a trailer. I know what it’s like to live in an apartment. I know what it’s like to live in a house.”

Pearson’s introduction was preceded by remarks from Cagle’s wife, Nita Cagle, and three sons, Grant, Carter and Jared.

Four candidates have filed to run for governor in 2018, including Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Buckhead. More candidates and even more cash are expected to follow in the gubernatorial race and the Republican primary.

Cagle has the largest number of statewide elections under his belt and, as lieutenant governor, occupies the office historically used as the launch pad for gubernatorial runs — putting a target on his back among the rest of the GOP contenders.

Looking to the fight ahead, Cagle took an early stance against negative campaigning on Sunday.

“I can tell you I’m not going to be running a campaign ...  that’s going to tear someone else down,” he said. “I think most people are tired of negative campaigns, and if all you’ve got is a campaign that’s going to tear others down in order to make yourself look good, you don’t have much of a campaign.”