Ralph Reed gets exactly what he deserves

Yes! The Republicans tainted by the slime and corruption that characterize everyday life in Washington these days will be held accountable and will be punished, at least by the voters

Ralph Reed, the vote shepherd of Southern evangelicals in President Bush’s two election wins, fell victim to nagging charges of hypocrisy and corruption Tuesday night when Georgia Republicans unexpectedly nominated a no-name state senator to be their party’s nominee for lieutenant governor.

Reed’s loss followed weeks of bruising attacks from Sen. Casey Cagle, who won 55 percent to 45 percent after running numerous television ads bashing the former Christian Coalition chief for accepting millions of dollars to galvanize Christians against gambling initiatives that were opposed by the Indian gaming clients of Reed’s longtime friend, indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The boyish-looking Reed was expected to easily win the race when he first entered it, but as Abramoff lobbying scandals embroiled Washington, D.C., a number of state and national Republicans fretted over the effectiveness of Democratic attacks about the so-called “Republican culture of corruption.” Reed said he was unaware that Abramoff’s antigambling initiative was funded with Indian gaming money.

“This is a major message to Republicans nationwide: Don’t run on the faith-based ticket if someone can make you look like a hypocrite,” said Matt Towery, a former Newt Gingrich strategist and chairman of the Atlanta-based polling and media firm InsiderAdvantage.

“What we’ve seen tonight in Georgia is the appearance of only the most core Republican base, which is not as religious-right as America thinks,” Towery said. “These are businessmen and women, and to many of them Ralph Reed didn’t reflect their image.”

Towery and others were surprised by Reed’s defeat, considering he excelled at turning out the vote, and had the backing of national figures like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller. He also had solid name identification among voters, having appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1995 at the age of 33 when he was executive director of the national Christian Coalition.

This is very big, very good news. Die-hard Republicans rejecting one of their own, a native son who was considered last year to be a shoe-in. For nearly six years the attitude was that the K Street Crowd and the GOP hacks who carry their water could get away with anything and everything. The message will reverberate loud and long throughout the party: We really are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. Even your invincible golden boys like Reed will be tossed out on their asses. The waste and plunder we are all watching, committed without the slightest trace of shame, is a national embarrassment. Anyone associated with Abramoff is deservedly radioactive and had better watch out. And yes, that includes you, Mr. Bush.

November. Can it come soon enough?

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