The 44-year-old Republican from Gainesville dropped out of the hotly contested governor's race last year for health reasons. For now, he says, being lieutenant governor allows him to drive much of the debate on public policy matters.
"The lieutenant governor's office has a big platform," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "We can promote initiatives that really change the lives of citizens in a positive way."
Cagle, who has a half-dozen election victories under his belt, became a Georgia state senator at age 28. He knocked out a Democratic incumbent to become Hall County's first Republican state senator in generations. Four years ago, he beat Democrat Jim Martin to become the state's first-ever Republican lieutenant governor.
With higher name recognition and more money than his Democratic challenger, Carol Porter, Cagle is a clear front-runner, said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock. Libertarian candidate Dan Barber is also running.
"There's this old saying from politics that voters don't hire challengers, they fire incumbents, and so there has to be some reason usually to get rid of an incumbent," Bullock said. "Otherwise incumbents win re-election at rates often exceeding 90 percent."
As of June 30, Cagle had more than $844,000 on hand, compared with Porter's more than $142,000. New financial disclosure reports were due Thursday, but candidates have a five-day grace period and neither Cagle nor Porter had submitted their filings to the State Ethics Commission by Friday. Barber, who entered the race in August, had about $1,000 on hand by Thursday.
In a poll last month, Cagle led by 47 percent compared with 28 percent for Porter. The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. for 13 daily newspapers with readership across Georgia, had an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Cagle said his top priorities have been education and economic development, and he would like to continue working on them in a second term.
He touted his role in helping pass legislation to make it easier to open charter schools and another initiative to allow the opening of "career academies," which blend high school and technical college learning to prepare students to enter the work force.
He has created a "jobs czar" position in his office -- fulfilling a campaign promise from four years ago -- to help small businesses navigate government bureaucracy.
To increase economic development, Cagle said it's important to create incentives for companies to do business in Georgia.