Republican, Democratic candidates for Georgia governor face off on Channel 2

Channel 2 WSB-TV, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB hosted two gubernatorial primary debates today on Channel 2.

The candidates are seeking to replace Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who is ineligible to run after having served two terms in office.

Channel 2 Action News anchor Justin Farmer moderated Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot, AJC political reporter Greg Bluestein and WSB Radio anchor Condace Pressley formed the panel questioning the candidates.


2:57 p.m. The five candidates give their closing remarks.

Casey Cagle: "You have a decision to make. Who is the consistent, conservative leader that has made Georgia the number one place to do business in five years in a row? I am that person."

Hunter Hill: "I've run a small business. I have fought for our values and principles as a state senator and I've fought overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. I want to take this fight to career politician Casey Cagle in this runoff."

Clay Tippins: "Our teacher pension fund is $4 billion underfunded, that happened on their watch. We have the highest sex trafficking rate in the nation, on their watch. I want to bring my skill set to take it to career politicians. Stand with me. It matters."

Michael Williams: "I was the only person fighting for Donald Trump when it mattered. I will cut your taxes, I will stop illegal immigration."

Brian Kemp: "I'm an unapologetic conservative. I have a history of winning. Who do you trust to put Georgians first ahead of the status quo, politically incorrect and those who are here illegally? That's what my campaign is about, putting Georgians first."

2:50 p.m. Casey Cagle on growing the economy: "I am not for doing away with the film industry in Georgia. These are the industries that make us competitive. I promise to be a conservative on issues but will grow the economy."

2:49 p.m. Michael Williams positions himself as the 'Trump' candidate. Williams blasts Cagle on tax cuts: "It's disgusting to me to hear Casey Cagle taking credit for this tax break. Donald Trump is the reason we were able to pass this tax cut."

2:45 p.m. Casey Cagle when asked if and how Georgia can lower income taxes: "We're not going to resort to gimmicks and schemes. We're going to do things responsibly that protects our triple-A bond rating."

2:31 p.m. Candidates are allowed to question each other

Hunter Hill and Casey Cagle spar over tax cuts. Cagle defends his records, saying he passed the largest tax cut in Georgia history.

Tippins blasts Kemp about potential security breaches of voter data: "If the secretary of state can't take control of protecting the information of the people and small businesses, how can he protect the people as governor?"

Michael Williams points to Brian Kemp. Williams says as a CPA (certified public accountant), he's uncovered audits within the secretary of state's office that have shown a mismanagement of funds, he asks Kemp: "Can you explain how you plan to manage the state if you can't manage the secretary of state's office?"

Kemp says, "I would disagree completely with that. We have a great record in the office."

Casey Cagle asks Hunter Hill about his tax plan idea and suggests it would raise taxes on the elderly. Hill says: "Our plan is to eliminate the income tax in Georgia. If we want to remain competitive, we need to look at the fact that we're one of the highest taxed states in the U.S. We're not raising taxes on food or seniors."

Cagle rebuts by saying Georgia is the lowest tax rate state, says we need a governor who knows how to spend and lower taxes in a responsible way.

2:29 p.m. Clay Tippins on illegal immigration: "I will defund sanctuary cities. We need more than buses and trucks, we need real solutions."

2:27 p.m. Hill on his support of the Religious Freedom Act: "We want to keep our vibrant economy going and protect this valuable constitution principal."

2:26 p.m. It is pointed out that Clay Tippins is the only candidate to not sign a pledge to support the religious freedom act.

Tippins says he doesn't sign things he hasn't read unlike the candidates he stands on the stage with.

2:25 p.m. Cagle on Religious Freedom Bill and economic prosperity.

Cagle says, "they can go hand-in-hand in Georgia because "we are building a world-class workforce."

2:23 p.m. Brian Kemp is asked about illegal immigration and the economy: "If someone is going through the legal immigration process they can certainly come to Georgia. We've got to have a vibrant guest worker program that doesn't offer amnesty."

2:18 p.m. The candidates are asked if they are moderates on any topics.

Brian Kemp is asked if he's a moderate on any topic. He calls himself an unapologetic conservative. Kemp says he's against "the status quo, the politically correct and those that are here illegally."

Casey Cagle: "I believe in the safety net. But the safety net does not need to be a hammock for people to rest in. It needs to be a springboard that lifts people to where we create a rising tide that lifts all boats."

Hunter Hill: "I'm going to be a true conservative and we need to take it to the liberals."

Clay Tippins says he's staunchly conservative and points out he supports the legalization and cultivation of medical marijuana.

Michael Williams: "I will fight aggressively for the topics that are important to the people of Georgia."

2:16 p.m. Michael Williams is asked about his controversial deportation bus tour.

Williams says it was meant to highlight a particular program that would allow police to act as ICE agents when an illegal immigrant commits a crime.

2:13 p.m. In a question to Hunter Hill, he's asked do we really believe arming teachers is the solution to gun violence? 
Hunter Hill: "Gun control simply doesn't work. It's very important that while we want to make sure our schools are safe, gun control elevates the criminal and the government. We need to look hard at gun-free zones that aren't delivering results"

2:05 p.m. The Republican debate starts off with the hot button issue of Second Amendment rights and gun control. 

State Sen. Michael Williams: "Those teachers that want to be armed. Let's give them the training they need to carry a gun on campus to help protect our children."

Clay Tippins: "Let's create a coalition of the willing" made up of "teachers, SEALS, Marines and Army people comfortable and know what they are doing" to help protect schools."

Hunter Hill: "We should not strip the Second Amendment rights of our teachers while they are teaching our children."

Brian Kemp: "We need to trust the parents, the local administrators and local law enforcement to address school security."

Casey Cagle: "Government does have a role to play and in doing so we have to make sure that they have a strong plan that and more resource officers that are put in place. Access points are critical as well."

2:00 p.m. Each of the candidates introduce themselves

State Sen. Michael Williams: "I like, Donald Trump, am primarily funding my own campaign so that when I become Governor, I'm beholden to one group of people, and that's you the people of Georgia."

Clay Tippins: "On Tuesday, I want to give you a better choice for governor because I'm the only one who has never sought or held office."

Hunter Hill: "Having faced the enemies of our country overseas, I can tell you our Islamic enemies will not tear down our country because they are too weak."

Brian Kemp: "I'm running to put you first, ahead of the status quot, the politically correct and illegal immigrants."

Casey Cagle: "I've had the great privilege of service as Lieutenant Governor. I'm the tried-and-true Republican of the field and the Conservative leader you can trust."


1:50 p.m.: Stacy Abrams on why she should be the next Georgia governor. "I want every Georgian to have the freedom and the opportunity to thrive.

1:45 p.m.: Stacey Evans on waste and inefficiencies question: I looked at the lottery audits, I found $60 million that we didn't spend.

1:37 p.m.: Stacey Evans on Stacey Abrams' early-voting controversies: She is using Republican talking points to justify what she did.

1:36 p.m.: Evans asks Abrams why she voted to cut early voting.

1:34 p.m. The candidates have the opportunity to ask each other questions.

1:30 p.m.: Stacey Evans on cutting taxes: What needs to change is government needs to focus on its job, so that businesses can work to create new jobs so that families can work, live, play in the kind of environment that we all want Georgia to be.

1:25 p.m.:

1:18 p.m.: Stacey Abrams continues to defend her work on the HOPE Scholarships. "The reality is that HOPE is alive and well and it is disingenuous to say anything else," Abrams said.

1:09 p.m.: On arming teachers: Stacey Abrams says we need to focus on mental health, early intervention and making school buildings safer, not arming teachers.

1:08 p.m.: On arming teachers: Stacey Evans says we already put too much demands on our teachers and they need to focus on teaching.

1 p.m.: The debates begin.