ATLANTA - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has officially endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle for governor.
Deal made the announcement in a news conference Monday morning.
The news conference was centered around Mercedes-Benz expanding its presence in Atlanta, beginning with an innovation lab in Buckhead.
Cagle is one of two remaining Republicans in the race for Georgia governor.
"I am very humbled and I'm honored that the governor has the confidence in me," Cagle said. "To have his confidence, to have his endorsement means more to me than words can express."
He and Secretary of State Brian Kemp took place in a runoff debate on Channel 2 Action News on Sunday.
Five Republicans were on the ballot for the May 22 primary.
Kemp responded to the endorsement in a statement just before 12:30 p.m. Monday.
This is the response from GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp on Gov. Deal's endorsement of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. pic.twitter.com/Uq2NxDvPbu— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) July 16, 2018
Kemp said, "Casey Cagle is collapsing in the polls, and this endorsement is a last minute attempt to distract voters from the secret recording where Cagle insults conservatives and confesses to trading votes for campaign cash."
But Deal said, in the end, he felt that Cagle could best carry on his legacy of reform and economic development.
"For that reason, I believe that Casey Cagle will be the best candidate for that position as governor of this state," Deal said.
"This is a man with great integrity and great character and to have his confidence reflects, obviously, exactly the type of governor which I am going to be," Cagle said.
Whoever emerges from the nine-week runoff will face a November showdown against former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a competition that will test whether the state is competitive after more than a decade of Republican rule.
Voters have until Friday, July 20 to vote early.
The runoff election is Tuesday, July 24.
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