That title alone will make blood boil in some of my friends. I have a lot of friends who are Ralph Reed supporters. I also have a lot who are Cagle supporters. I’m really enjoying staying on the outside of this race and trying to offer some objective comments on it, though that gives each side an incentive to send hell my way when they disagree with me.
So, here is my objective comment of the day that you can feel free to disagree with in the comments: Ralph Reed is not the frontrunner in the Lieutenant Governor’s race.
Actually, that is to Ralph’s advantage. The frontrunner this early out usually loses. But, let’s be honest, while the political echochamber keeps promoting Ralph as “the man to beat,” Ralph Reed is not the frontrunner. Allow me, if you will without getting your underwear in a wad, to explain.
Despite the fantastic numbers that appeared on Reed’s disclosure report, the truth of the matter is that he had double the time of the Cagle campaign and raised double the money. I’ve run the numbers (folks, I’m an elections lawyer, I know how to run these numbers). The closer to June 30, the less Reed raised. There was no massive influx of cash. Reed raised more than anyone has ever raised for that position at this time on the calendar, and he deserves a whole lot of credit for that. But again, he had double the amount of time that Cagle had and he raised double the amount of money. Among the movers and shakers, the Abramoff taint did have some wear and tear on Reed’s campaign.
The Atlanta media, which largely sets the tone for political races in Georgia, is adamantly opposed to Reed, as is the mainstream national media. Whenever Ralph Reed garners press attention from the AJC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the big Atlanta television stations, the press is uniformly critical. That does not have a great impact on the grassroots movement, but it does have an affect of those at the upper tiers of campaign giving who might be reluctant to have their name appear on Reed’s campaign disclosure report.
But, and lets be honest, the above mentioned reasons are fluff and spinnable by either Reed to make himself look really good or Cagle to make Reed look bad. So, let’s add to the objective points that you can dispute in the comments — but you will be wrong.
Reed will out raise Cagle dollar for dollar. Reed will probably out organize Cagle on the ground. You can take umbrage with either of those statements, but I think they are both fair statements. The real reason Ralph Reed is not the frontrunner and the real reason that Ralph Reed will actually struggle through the election is very simple.
Everyone knows that Ralph Reed does not want to be Lieutenant Governor of the State of Georgia. Even Ralph Reed supporters know that. A good friend of mine who is supporting Ralph says he hopes “to ride that train all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Reed might not want to be President, but I guarantee you he does not really want to be Lieutenant Governor. The Lite Gov. spot is just a weigh station on the road to West Paces Ferry and that nice sized house with the beautiful garden we all call the Governor’s Mansion. And that, my friends, is the problem for Reed and the reason he is not the frontrunner.
While Reed right now has his sights on 2006 and beating Cagle, Glenn Richardson, John Oxendine, possibly one or more Congressmen, possibly one of the U.S. Senators, a couple of State Senators, and a couple of State Representatives already are lusting after the Governor’s Mansion in 2010. And all of these people are very educated, smart, and ambitious. They all know that if Ralph Reed gets elected now, despite everything being thrown at him, he will be the frontrunner in 2010.
Yes, those same dynamics would be in place if just Cagle were pursuing the Lieutenant Governor’s position, but with the perception of who Ralph Reed is, Reed is more of a threat than Cagle. Ralph Reed has bitten off a great deal to undertake this challenge. The question remains whether Reed has bitten off more than he can chew.
Oh, and as for Cagle? No, he is not the frontrunner right now either. In fact, the Cagle camp has, I think, been participating in the Reed as frontrunner spin because they are smart enough to know that, based on history, the frontrunner this early out in an open race usually loses. Who is the frontrunner? The frontrunner is the great unknown, which might soon go by the name of Karen Handel or another name still out there.
I may not be a political genius, but I’m smart enough to know that the “Reed as frontrunner” idea is more media spin than fact. And that spin, despite what you think, is not Ralph Reed generated. He too, like Cagle, knows the frontrunner this early out is likely to lose as voters get tired of the same old-same old and go off in search of someone else. The “Reed as frontrunner” myth is media spin generated by the media with the complicity of others so the media looks like the some sort of champion when Reed is brought down by the AJC’s rehashing of other people’s talking points.