The Republican and Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor released their first television ads Monday, and both campaigns are taking a positive stance.
For incumbent Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the focus is education.
“This is our future. Whether she’s your grandchild, your child or the precious little one you hope to have, children are our priority,” Cagle says during the 30-second ad as video plays of students in classrooms. “That’s why we refused to balance the budget on the backs of our children, protected educational funding critical to personal learning pathways, promoted flexibility for parents and teachers in schools and launched innovative ideas that recognize one size does not fit all. Because Georgia’s future depends on the success of every child.”
Education is one of Cagle’s main focuses, especially when about 40 percent of state taxpayer dollars fund K-12 programs, said Ryan Cassin, Cagle’s campaign manager. The campaign sent out a long news release Monday afternoon, outlining how each sentence in the ad is backed by Cagle’s past actions.
“(Cagle) passed House Bill 908 in 2010 session to remove expenditure controls, empowering local schools boards to decide how to spend funds received from the state and providing them the maximum flexibility to adapt to a difficult budget environment without impacting classroom instruction,” the release states as proof that Cagle “refused to balance the budget on the backs of our children.”
Cagle’s main focus is on charter school systems, which allow for exemption from many state mandates, flexible curriculum design and a focus on student achievement and community involvement.
“He’s pioneered charter schools and career academies, and we’re proud of every word in this ad,” Cassin said. “Children are our priority, and part of being so proud of our message is that we’re able to defend each line if there are any questions.”
For Democratic challenger Carol Porter, the priority is jobs.
“As general manager of nine Georgia newspapers, Carol sees firsthand how businesses are suffering and feels the urgency of creating jobs in Georgia,” the 30-second ad says, with pictures of Porter at different newspapers. “Carol understands the issues facing Georgia, and she has the right kind of experience to lead Georgia forward.”
As a small businesswoman, Porter hears about struggling businesses daily, said Liz Flowers, Porter’s press secretary.
“Creating jobs for Georgia is critical for her and her message,” Flowers said. “Fixing jobs helps us fix other matters that are peripheral issues.”
The beginning of the clip also introduces Porter to voters, which is essential for the challenger in a quiet race, Flowers said.
“Carol Porter grew up in Georgia, raised her children in Georgia and has Georgia values,” the ad says. “As a wife, a Sunday school teacher and the mother of four Eagle Scouts, Carol understands the importance of faith and hard work.”
Both campaigns took a positive approach in their first ads, and the trend most likely will continue through their next ads, Cassin and Flowers said. The Cagle campaign posted the video on its website on Friday to gauge reactions.
“We have so many great accomplishments that we’re proud of, and our campaign has been positive since day one. This ad was a perfect fit in that sense,” Cassin said. “We’re working on additional positive messages right now for future ads to explain why Cagle has earned a second term. The early response about the education ad has been very positive.”
Porter wants to avoid dirty campaign tactics as she introduces herself to voters, Flowers said.
“It’s important for voters to get to know her first without having her look like she’s going after somebody else. When people know her and listen to her, they start to nod, and you can see it when she speaks to voters,” Flowers said. “A challenger takes more effort to reach voters and for voters to know and understand the platform. Porter knows Georgians are ready for a change.”
The video debut started three weeks before Election Day, and both candidates are wrapping up a second ad to air in the next week. Libertarian candidate Dan Barber is planning his own ad and met with his campaign Monday night to discuss ideas.
“Looking at resources and voter contact, this gives us the ability to communicate with thousands of people, and with a statewide buy, the ad stretches from Atlanta to Savannah,” Cassin said. “It made sense to start ads today as voters are beginning to pay more attention to the race.”