I've been interviewed for nearly as many stories about Ralph Reed as I've read.
Recall that Reed is the former Christian Coalition leader who is running for lieutenant governor of Georgia as his first try at elected office.
From Rolling Stone magazine to Newsweek, there has been no shortage of those seeking to get a handle on Reed's candidacy. So I figure it's timely to offer additional perspective on Reed, his ambitions and the remarkably intense interest surrounding him.
For starters, here are the two questions I'm asked most often.
One, is Ralph Reed's current candidacy an attempted prelude to future runs for higher offices?
Two, has the web of political scandal surrounding Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the defrauding of Indian tribes hurt Reed's candidacy?
Few would be surprised if it did. The mud-wallowing in the nation's capital has been linked to Reed and has captivated the political consciousness of this town.
But the truth is, Reed has gone largely untouched by it all.
Why? Because his Republican opponent for lieutenant governor has yet to lay a glove on the angelic-looking Reed in the medium that counts -- television. And oddly accruing to his advantage in this situation -- sorry, Reed fans -- he just isn't that well-known in his home state. This is partly because he hasn't yet aired any television commercials promoting his candidacy.
Despite reams of negative press in Georgia, our InsiderAdvantage polls show only minor damage to Reed among voters in general, and virtually none among Republicans. And it's they who will vote in the Georgia primary to select a GOP nominee.
Reed sits on a pile of campaign funds, although much of it has come from outside of his home state. But that's to be expected from a candidate who is better known in national political and media circles than he is among home voters. That's not necessarily a bad thing for him.
Reed's Republican opponent is state Sen. Casey Cagle, a well-spoken man who has raised a competitive amount of money himself, and who could appeal to the moderate GOP women who will be the critical swing votes in the primary.
Cagle must define Reed to these voters. His ads must paint Reed's alleged lobbying problems in dark colors. And he must successfully portray Reed as a political extremist.
Polling so far shows that voters are as indifferent to Reed's Abramoff connection as the pundits are intrigued with it. Apparently, most Georgians view Reed as nothing more, nor less, than a mainstream politician and a straight shooter.
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