Brutally?

Ok, folks. I’ve just spent almost the entire day in conversations with various people in various stages of conjecture and speculation about none other than the Lt. Governor’s nomination for the GAGOP. As such, I’m going to lay out, as clearly as I know how, the way the signs read at this point. Earlier I classified both candidates as losers, and I hold to that assessment. However, I do think that one candidate will defend his weaknesses, and focus on his strengths, and thus prevail. Here’s my message to Ralph and Casey:

Ralph, heads up:

Don’t be concerned about the casino issue. The AJC has two reasons for their daily coverage of it: first, it sells more papers because some conservatives who otherwise wouldn’t read the Constipation are now buying papers to follow the LG race coverage; secondly, you’re the best candidate to hold the office. Otherwise, they’d be focusing their flames on Casey. It’s now exactly 12 months until the primary, and I rather doubt that anyone will remember these issues come time to cast a ballot.

I sat in the restaurant at dinner tonight, and looked around. 9 out of 10 people in the restaurant I guarantee couldn’t have told me who was even running for LG, much less the issues surrounding the race. Those who are aware of what is currently going on in this race have already decided for whom they’ll vote. Those who haven’t will start paying attention about three weeks out, 2 months at best, and they’ll make their decision in the final week.

Who cares about some paper back in college that might have said some nasty things about Ghandi? At least one of the candidates went to college…

Ralph, you have to get out of your consultant’s role. You’re fighting the same problem that got Sonny where he is right now: you’re a jerk, according to many people whom you’ve met. You’ve got excellent eye contact, and a great personal conversational style, and your smile is excellent. Use it to your advantage. When people meet you in person and get the feeling that you’re looking right past them, it turns them off. That’s what’s going to kill you, if anything does. Look them in the eye, flash a smile. Stop being a consultant. At the photo ops, you’re not coordinating the photographers and taking care of hospitality for the celebrities. You’re kissing babies, winking at the women, and complimenting the men on their last business accomplishment. Change roles, or you’ll lose fast. Take lessons from your opponent: he’s a pro at it. You’ve got the same natural aptitude: capitalize on it.

Little modification of message: from the mountains of North Georgia? Duluth doesn’t count, sorry to say. That one might come back to haunt you. I’m originally from those mountains, and they’re alot different then that little area off SR-400.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: lose the boots and the tie. ‘Nuff said. I think you know of whence I speak.

You other biggest weakness will surface as we get closer to the nomination: policy competency. Your opponent is an astute policy man, and has been chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Develop some good talking points on, and issue positions on, some hard core policy issues. We already know you’re pro life, pro family, and all of that. What about imminent domain, internet privacy, health insurance, homestead exemptions, Peachcare, and those other real life issues? That’s what matters to the voter, and what they want to hear about in those last three weeks. Key to doing this is get ahead of the casino issue: get to a place where you’re no longer defending on that issue, spend some time and focus on positive, issue oriented statements and stands, and you’ll see a tremendous turn of the tide…

Your biggest strengths are some of the items I already mentioned. You posess great interpersonal skills…use them. Use them. Use them. Capitalize on your ability to raise money, and form grassroots networks. People at all four corners of the state know who you are: use that.

Casey Cagle, here’s to you, friend:

Change the worldview of your staff, or get a new staff. Look at their resumes: they all used to work for Ralph at some point, in various capacities. It’s a mindset with them. I can see the staff meetings now. There’s no objective analysis of the issues. It’s all a question of, “How can we throw the kitchen sink at Ralph today?” I’d say that starts with your consultant…

Capitalize on your policy experience. You can’t do it while you’re spending all your time and money attacking the character of your opponent. Spend time and money putting forth your stance on the issues, and marketing your resume, and the contrast between you and Ralph will evidence itself.

Save your powder. Don’t use all of your ammo now. It’s 12 months out. When it comes to the casino issues, I’d venture to say that most of ya’ll in the Cagle camp think you’re driving the story: NEWS FLASH: driving the story you AIN’T. It’s driving you.

The sum total of all this? You’ve put yourself in a lose, lose. If the offensive tactics don’t work, Ralph wins, and you look bad for being negative. If they work, and Ralph drops out, what do you have to campaign on? Are you going to do a massive message switch next April and THEN start talking about the issues? I rest my case.

Another news flash: Ralph is the president’s homeboy. You’re going to have to come up with something big enough to overshadow a “W” visit to the Peach State in the media. It’s hard to do.

It seems to me that you’re connected with some people who are inherently unable to grasp the importance of grassroots politics. It’s obvious, I believe, who is the better fundraiser in this race. If not yet, we should know in a few days. If not, I’m happy to eat crow. However, when you’re being outraised by the other candidate, all you have left is grassroots. Listen up: grassroots are what campaigns are made of outside the Perimeter. If you don’t believe me, ask some of those rural Senators that so bravely endorsed you. Your people need to get their heads out of the Atlanta sand and smell the pizza..grassroots are going to make or break this election. If you make good grassroots, you have the potential to beat Ralph. If not, you lose, because there’s another statewide candidate who’s desperately going to need strong grassroots to make up for the incompetence of his political staff: my guess is that he’ll quietly support whomever has the best grassroots to offer him.

My prediction, without any indication of the candidate for whom I’m working, or voting: Reed wins. The odds are slightly stacked in his favor, and on top of that, I believe he has what it takes to minimize his weaknesses, and capitalize on his strengths.

Interesting little thing I realized this evening: who knows the names of the two individuals who used to be partners at the Georgia political consulting firm South Public Affairs? Joel McElhannon is now the sole member of that LLC. His former partner? None other than Scott Rials, who is now the general consultant in Gary Black’s race for Agriculture Commissioner, who is running against former state Senator Bryan Kemp. Bryan’s consultant? Joel McElhannon…Sonny’s consultant? Scott Rials…ya’ll making the connection yet?

More later on the brewing political situation in the Senate…

14 comments

  1. Bull Moose says:

    I’m going to take you to task on everything here Maverick — cause I think you’re missing the big picture. The issue with the casinos isn’t really whether or not Ralph worked for gambling or didn’t — it’s that he lied about his association with the Indian tribes. As in the past, he is displaying a flagrant disregard for the truth and facts. For me, and I hope, God I hope, others, honesty is still an important characteristic in electing anyone to anything in the state of Georgia.

    Casinos are the tip of the iceberg in the Ralph Reed debacle — anyone know about free trade with China? Ralph Reed is for it, oh wait, he’s against it, hold on, which audience is this? Ralph Reed will take a stand for anything with money behind it and on trade with China he showed his true hypocritical colors.

    Let’s not even get into Enron. Guess who walked away from Enron with money in his pockets — no it wasn’t the employees, they lost all their money by investing in the company. Retirees you guess — no, they lost their money too. Ralph Reed walked away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees as the boat went down. Let’s see, retirees, investors, employees 0 / Ralph Reed $500,000. That seems logical — NOT!

    Maverick, did you take the opportunity to go talk to the 9 out of 10 people. Do you have a sense of civic responsibility to educate them. 9 out of 10 people I talk to aren’t even aware of who the Governor is. Why are you surprised that they don’t know who is running for Lt. Governor?

    Tell them what’s going on and see how long it takes for them to make up their mind. By the time this primary is two weeks out, Ralph Reed will still be wrapped up in an FBI probe, likely will have the Attorney General of Alabama to contend with, and maybe just maybe, the Indians will lift the curse! Maverick, are you aware of the statements made by people like James Dobson? You know what Dobson said? He said that had he known that Reed accepted the money from the opposing tribes that he would have never put his reputation on the line. Gosh, those are real words of encouragement for Ralph Reed! When this race is two weeks out this is what the headline will be: Lt. Governor — a choice between former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed who is part of an ongoing FBI criminal investigation regarding laundered tribal funds versus Senate Finance Chairman Casey Cagle. I don’t know that people will vote for someone who is associated with FBI and Criminal in the same sentence.

    The paper is relevant, not because Ralph plagerized, but really because he couldn’t defend his actions, instead, he changed the topic by attacking the attacker and the paper. Hmm… Isn’t that still his strategy?

    Maverick — you spoke to Ralph in this post, so here is my reply to you and hopefully, even to Ralph himself — Ralph — you’re rude. You don’t come off like a jerk — brother, you are a jerk. It’s okay — I would want a jerk as my consultant! I play good guy — you play bad guy!!!

    You look through people because honestly man, you can’t believe that you’re Ralph Reed and you have to put up with this crap. I talked to you personally at the convention — it wasn’t interesting — you didn’t have anything to say. I guess I didn’t have my money clip displayed prominently enough or perhaps I wasn’t drinking Kool Aid, I’m not sure, but you know, I wasn’t impressed. Maverick says you have these skills — sounds like something out of Napoleon Dynamite…

    North Georgia South Georgia — who cares man. So you graduated high school from there, went to UGA and then promptly went to DC — great! I went to DC too! Guess what — I left so I wouldn’t turn into something like you, well not you perse, but I didn’t want to sell my sole for the highest bidder and be a lobbyist.

    I get it the President likes boots. Do you think wearing boots makes you like the President? You know, I’m not that tall either, I’m 5’8, how tall are you? But when I saw the boots, I thought, what, is he ashamed of being short? Micheal J. Fox is short and he doesn’t wear boots. Oh I forgot — the President wears boots so we all have to wear boots.

    Ralph on policy — just cause you have good talking points doesn’t mean you know how to get anything done. Am I the only Georgian left who is tired of talking points? Yeah Yeah Yeah, smaller classrooms, better healthcare, yada yada yada — sounds good — but Ralph — there’s a problem — you don’t know how to make any of those things happen in the Senate.

    Okay Maverick, by now you must be absolutely either steaming mad or laughing hysterical but here’s the rest.

    I’ve met Casey Cagle. I’ve talked to Casey Cagle. I’ve looked into Casey Cagle’s eyes — this man is the real deal for Georgia and that is why I’m supporting him.

    First off, let me say something about attacking the staff — Casey has got a good team. I don’t know the consultant so I can’t speak to that, but Casey has developed a loyal and hard working staff. Funny — one or two did used to work for Ralph — funny those that know him best and who worked with him are supporting and working for someone else. That should speak volumes to people.

    Funny Maverick — the negativeness isn’t coming from Casey Cagle or his staff, the negative is coming from the emails that Ralph sent to Abramoff trying to “hump” in some more clients. The negative comes from the fraud that Reed participated in with the tribes and the lies he’s spread to protect himself. The negative comes from Reed himself. Maverick, when you go outside and play with your dog in the yard and get some fleas on you and then you go inside and say lie in your bed — when the fleas start biting you in your bed, do you think that the sheets and comforter went outside or do you think the fleas came in with you? I’m just curious — help me out here?

    The negativity surrounding Ralph Reed, like the dust around that Peanuts character, comes from his own doings.

    Casey is capitalizing on his policy experience Maverick. Unless you know something I don’t maverick, Cagle hasn’t been attacking anyone, but he does and he should make the difference known.

    Let me tell you — when you tell people the two candidates and give some background, almost without a doubt everyone is going with Casey Maverick. And I’m not spinning, I’m not pulling punches.

    Maverick, man, let me take a minute to see if you’re still with me cause I don’t want you to get lost here… Casey — listen — stay on message brother. Keep doing what you’re doing which is talking about the issues facing Georgia, what you’ve done in the state senate and what you’re going to do for Georgia’s future.

    The President is not going to in anyway come out in favor of Ralph Reed — no way. The President may come down here in the General, but he is not going to venture down here in the primary. Maverick — did you have Kool Aid before you wrote this all???

    Grassroots are critical! Anyone who doesn’t know that at this point in politics might be new to the game. Maverick, Cagle is getting some pretty good grassroots movement on the coast right now from what I hear and is making his way across the state. Once people can make an INFORMED DECISION, there is no question what they are doing…

    Okay, the money expectations game — I don’t think it’s going to be a question of who raises the most money — Ralph Reed will raise a lot of money. The question needs to turn from who raises the most, etc… to where is the money coming from? Is the money Georgia money or is it out of state money. Watch that figure… that is where proof will be in the pudding…

    —————————————————————-

    As for the last part about the incompetent political staff of another Georgia candiate — you add Reed to that ticket and you can say goodbye Governor’s mansion, Senate Majority, and many other offices and hello NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF GEORGIA.

    I’m sticking with my call on this — Cagle is the man to beat and as time progresses Maverick, you will see that and call it for him too.

  2. Maverick says:

    Bull,

    You just spent 11 out of 23 body paragraphs attacking Reed. I rest my case.

    I also just spent a few moments surfing Casey’s site…there’s nothing on there about his policy issues. I beg to differ. Casey ISN’T capitalizing on his policy experience.

    I challenge you to name me ONE individual on Casey’s staff that didn’t work for Ralph previously.

    Finally, I think you made a vital error in reading my post: you assume I’m advocating for Ralph. I never said that. I said Ralph will win. I never said I was working for him, nor did I ever say I would vote for him. That, I believe, typifies the spirit of the Cagle campaign…”The whole world is against us, and we have to turn the whole world against Ralph, oh no!!”

    You know what they say about assuming…

    Finally, I beg to differ in your analysis of losing “many other offices” to the “New Democratic Party of Georgia.” While we may lose the Governor’s mansion and the Lite Gov’s chair, I think Jay Walker, Tony Simon, Glenn Richardson, Jerry Keen, Eric Johnson, Tommie Williams, Cecil Staton, Barry Flemming and many other folks under the gold dome would also beg to differ as to the rest of the legislature. They worked hard to get where they’re at. They’ll work hard to keep it, and fight, tooth and nail I’ll wager, to keep it.

  3. Maverick says:

    P.S. Bull? I used to work for Ralph, and I beg to differ with your generalization of Ralph’s former employees and also of his interpersonal skills.

  4. Maverick says:

    Nother P.S. Bull? Rumor inside the Beltway has it that W is not only coming to Ga to campaign for Ralph four times, but also that the White House is telling folks that if their name isn’t on Ralph’s disclosure come next Friday, they can forget coming to the White House. How bout them apples?

  5. Bull Moose says:

    Maverick and the rest of the God fearing people of Georgia, let Bull Moose be clear here — pointing out the truth isn’t an attack. There is a huge difference.

    Anyway, Maverick, I think you are great to raise the dialogue here and applaud you for doing so. Keep it up.

    Come next Friday, when the disclosure does come out, look to see how much of Ralph’s money is from out of state. I’m willing to predict that when you subtract the out of state money, that he and Casey are very close.

    If its true that the President comes down here in a primary for Ralph Reed, given the facts as they are, I’d be surprised — truly. But if he does, I’ll eat crow Maverick, but it certainly won’t keep me from supporting Casey.

    As for the down ballot races, what I’m saying is that let’s say you have a Cathy Cox that makes it out of her primary and is running strong against Sonny — people are going to vote for Cathy — they may also vote for everything else down the ballot — every heard of coattails??? That is what I was saying.

    It would be ashamed, because, you are right the Senate Republicans worked hard, especially Eric Johnson… Funny though, here again, Maverick, most of them support Casey…

    Anyway, enough.

  6. landman says:

    Maverick,I would hate to see what you would do for Ralph if you did support him.The bottom line to all the rehtoric is that Georgia will see the candidates for what they really are.What concerns me is how some people can so easily dismiss the major character flaws that have been revealed,regardless who is writing the stories,lets face it Ralph has alot of enemies on the left who without question are enjoying these scandels but thats not Cagles fault its Reed’s.Most jobs go to the most qualified and I bet thats what happens here.

  7. Icarus says:

    I think we should watch this race very closely. It could get very interesting if Bush does decide to come here 4 times to support Ralph.

  8. Bill Simon says:

    “Most jobs go to the most qualified and I bet thats what happens here.”.

    That statement is true more often than not in private industry. In government, not so much.

  9. rugby fan says:

    Icarus:

    This may be as out there as suggesting that someone who wins a congressional race wouldn’t get sworn in but, I think it is safe to assume that Rudy will wrap up the GOP nomination very quickly.

    Ralph will win the Lite Gov race over Casey by 10 points and then cruise to victory in November.

    Rudy will be indebted to Ralph putting him in the driver’s seat with the religious right.

    What are the odds Rudy taps Ralph in ’08 for VP?

  10. Icarus says:

    Well Rugby, One thing’s for sure.

    If Rudy is tapping Ralph, it isn’t the news story that everyone thought it would be.

  11. Romegaguy says:

    I heard W is coming to Georgia the day after the primary where he and will Ralph will take the stage under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished”

  12. Chris says:

    Ralph will win this thing easily. With the House, Senate and Governor under GOP control they’ll cut spending, reform government, cut taxes and bring dignity and respect to Georgia Government.

    Or I’ll buy everyone steak dinners.

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