Editor’s Note: This story is part of our Running Women project following 15 compelling women candidates in 2018.
Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico, who is running for lieutenant governor in Georgia, condemned the current lieutenant governor last week for punishing Georgia’s largest private employer on behalf of a major political donor.
Delta Air Lines, headquartered in Atlanta, ended discounts on flights that it had provided to members of the National Rifle Association (NRA), in a bid to remove itself from a gun-control debate that reignited after the school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla.
The move inflamed Georgia’s Republicans, including Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, who is running for governor. “I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back,” Cagle tweeted on Feb. 26.
Later on Thursday, Georgia lawmakers retaliated against Delta by passing a law that terminated a $50 million tax break on jet fuel that benefited the airline.
Riggs Amico, a business owner who is seeking to replace Cagle as lieutenant governor, spoke out against him. “When we play politics instead of focusing on the people of Georgia, we all lose,” she tweeted. She added that Cagle’s “posturing” is not the way to create jobs, something she knows from experience.
Riggs Amico is the executive chairperson for vehicle logistics company Jack Cooper Holdings Corp. She refers to herself as “politically purple” and has said she is committed to working across the aisle.
In an email to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog, Political Insider, Riggs Amico accused Cagle of using his position as lieutenant governor to threaten Delta, which did not commit fraud or tax evasion, on behalf of a donor to his political campaigns.
“The presiding officer of our State Senate played political ‘stick ‘em up’ with a company that provides a paycheck, career and benefits to 33,000 Georgians. Over a donor. Imagine what companies thinking of moving jobs to Georgia must be thinking — Amazon included,” she added.
Atlanta is on Amazon’s short list of 20 candidates to house a second headquarters, which could potentially create 50,000 jobs in the metropolitan area, if it’s chosen. Many Georgia residents hope that Atlanta will be selected, but with Amazon’s left-leaning tendencies, a red state killing a tax break over politics may not appeal to the company.
“It signals to Amazon that politicians in Georgia are more concerned about scoring points with constituents sympathetic to a particular social view than they are about whatever business or economic rationale they may have to direct benefits to a specific firm,” assistant professor of business, government and society at the McCombs School of Business, Brian Richter told CNN.
Cagle is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, who tweeted that she will “continue to listen to our community’s cry” to do more to prevent gun violence. Some political observers believe that Cagle’s recent swipe against Delta increases Abrams’ chances of winning.