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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ralph Reed’s Slo-Mo Scandal

Josh Marshall asked today why Ralph Reed’s not in more trouble back home in Georgia for his central involvement in the Abramoff/Scanlon Indian Casino Shakedown Scam. As a native Georgian who’s watched this thing develop for a while, my answer is: Be patient, Josh. Ralph’s political problems may not be shaking, but they’re baking. You have to remember:He’s running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, which may be Ralph’s stepping stone to an eventual presidential run, but is not a matter of gripping interest to Georgians at this point. Indeed, and ironically, Reed’s Republicans stripped the office of virtually all its once-formidable powers in 2003 after taking over the state senate.He may be a legendary figure nationally, but he’s actually not universally known among Georgia voters, and even those who recognize him mostly identify him vaguely with the Christian Coalition, which is rapidly shrinking in the rear-view mirror as a major player in Georgia and national politics. Sure, many Republican activists know he was a spectacularly successful state party chair in 2002, but others remember him as the political consultant whose ham-handed negative campaign for another GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor, one Mitch Skandalakis, helped take down the whole ticket in 1998. And most of all, Reed’s slow-motion-riot of a scandal is clearly going to be the centerpiece of the primary opponent he wasn’t able to intimidate into withdrawing, state senator Casey Cagle. To be sure, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has given the Tribal Gaming scam a lot of attention, and Georgia Democrats have joyfully piled on, but it’s Cagle’s campaign that’s made it Daily Bread. In fact, the failure, so far, of Georgia Democrats to recruit a truly top-tier opponent for Ralph is not attributable to fear of Ralph, but mainly to the fear that Reed will implode well before the 2006 primary.Personally, if I were a gambling man, I’d bet big money that Ralph Reed is not going to capture the empty prize of the Lieutenant Governorship of Georgia in 2006, much less grab the brass ring of higher office. Beyond that, I don’t know what his future holds, other than to observe that the Lord does tend to reserve special punishment for self-righteous hypocrites.

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