[[C A M P A I G N S]] * Even before any prosecutions begin of Washington, D.C, Republicans connected to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, it appears there might already be one prominent GOP casualty of the Abramoff scandals: Ralph Reed. Bloomberg.com reports that the 44-year-old Reed, a former executive director of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition and a consultant to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, might see his campaign for the lieutenant governor’s seat in Georgia undermined by his longtime association with Abramoff. Reed moved from Georgia to D.C. in 1981 to take an internship with Abramoff at the College Republican National Committee, and later introduced the lobbyist to his wife, Pam, at a birthday party for President Ronald Reagan. Bloomberg adds that the boyish-appearing Reed later “ran an anti-gambling campaign that was secretly financed by casino-owning clients of his friend Abramoff.”
“There are concerns as to whether Ralph will continue to make headlines that are harmful to the party,” says Eric Johnson, the Georgia Senate’s Republican president pro tem. Corporate donors are growing wary of how Reed might be implicated in the widening Abramoff scandals, and as a consequence might be more likely to contribute funds to his Republican adversary, state senator Casey Cagle, in a primary race that once looked like Reed’s to lose. Bloomberg points out that Reed remains ahead of Cagle “ in overall fundraising, having collected a total of $1.8 million to Cagle’s $1.3 million,” but that the ex-Christian Coalition leader’s money collection has slowed significantly during the last six months “with the drumbeat of news about Abramoff and Reed’s connections to him.” A recent poll commissioned by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found Cagle outperforming Reed slightly in match-ups against an unnamed Democrat. (Former state senator Greg Hecht and former House member Jim Martin are currently vying for the Democratic nomination in this race.)
With so much uncertainty surrounding Reed’s political and legal future, Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia in Athens, tells Bloomberg.com that young GOP activists now hope Reed will give up his bid for the lieutenant governor’s office. “Without exception, they are hoping he’s not on the ticket,” Bullock says, their concern being that “he gets the nomination, and then sometime in the fall the smoking gun shows up and he brings down Republicans.”
READ MORE: “Ralph Reed: The Rhinestone Choirboy” (Pensito Review); “Abramoffed,” by Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker).