Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Judgment Day in Ga.: Reed v. Cagle

When news of Reed's concession reached Cagle's Victory party in Gwinnett County, Clint Murphy reports, the crowd went "out of control." Clint called me back on his cell phone so I could hear the speech live.

When Cagle took the stage for his victory speech about 10:15 p.m., the crowd screamed for about 5 minutes.

"We are so excited," Cagle said, beginning with thanks to "my heavenly father."
"I also want to thank my family. ... They've seen my name dragged through the mud."
Cagle said he was "so humbled" by the victory and added: "It wasn't just for Casey Cagle, because we believe in hope, we believe in opportunity, we believe in the American dream."

He thanked "my senators" and other elected officials "who put their necks out on the line for me."

"The good guys won tonight," Cagle said, prompting cheers from the crowd.

Cagle said, "I do wish Ralph Reed well. He was very gracious when he called." Cagle said Reed pledged his support in November.

"There's another guy we've got to make sure gets elected in November, and that's Sonny Perdue," Cagle said, drawing more cheers. He concluded by telling his supporters: "We've still got one more hurdle to overcome, and that's November, so let's work hard."

9:55 p.m.:
“Tonight my candidacy for lieutenant governor comes to an end,” Reed said.

10:10 p.m.: Just got off the phone with Clint Murphy, who's at the Cagle victory party. Will blog the victory speech in minutes.

9 p.m.: CAGLE WINS
Hate to risk a "Dewey Defeats Truman" situation, but the early returns clearly point to a Cagle victory. With Hall and Gwinnett yet to report, and Cagle leading in Cobb, Paulding and throughout North Georgia, this one is an easy call:



Cagle 56%
Reed 44%

9:50 p.m.: With 40% of the precincts in, the steady Cagle lead is becoming too much for even Ralph's vaunted spin capacity to deny. I'm looking at Troup County, on the Alabama border north of Columbus, and Cagle's up 1,040 to Reed's 677 with 12 of 18 precincts in. And now Bartow County comes in (12 of 19 precincts) and it's Cagle 1,223 to Reed 1,074. Like I said: Cagle wins.

9:30 p.m.: Just got off the phone with Erick Erickson of PeachPundit/Red State. He's more cautious, and says the Reed people say it's going to be a long night, but Erick agrees that the electoral math looks bad for Reed.

And I got this e-mail tonight from my truck driver brother:
Early last week I went to north Georgia, the latter part of the week I went through south Georgia.
I didn't drive through, I delivered in Hahira, Valdosta, Perry, Waycross, Alma etc. The leaners were leaning Cagle. Casual observation but often times I spoke with the owner.

BTW: My brother took the photos of Cagle and Reed that are featured in this blog post.

8:30 p.m.:
Cagle obviously is running stronger in North Georgia (Fannin, Dade, Gilmer counties, etc.), Reed's stronger in South Georgia. Cagle is ahead in Cobb County -- reputedly a Reed stronghold -- with nearly half the precincts reporting. Nothing yet from Hall or Gwinnett, which should be Cagle strongholds.
8 p.m.: Very low turnout was evident in early returns. With 1% of precincts reporting, only 1,664 ballots cast in the Reed-Cagle race. A Peach Pundit blogger wonders what this means.
7:50 p.m.: Mood at Cagle HQ in Gwinnett County is reported to be "optimistic."
7:40 p.m.: Just got off the phone with a Chatam County (Savannah) Cagle supporter who says he saw no evidence today of Reed's vaunted "army" of volunteers.

The AJC is liveblogging the primary, and remember to check PeachPundit for inside scoops.

Taylor 51%
Cox 44%


Hecht 36%
Martin 42%
Miles 14%
Lotson 5%
Terrill 3%

Runoff for McKinney
With 98% of the precincts counted in District 4, Rep. Cynthia McKinney had 47% to Hank Johnson's 45% and will face an Aug. 8 runoff -- a huge embarassment for McKinney, who had been expected to coast to victory in the Democratic primary.

You've got to envy Hank Johnson. He just became Neal Boortz's favorite Democrat!

* * * * *
UPDATE 6 p.m. Tuesday
Linked at Hotline's "On Call" blog.

Polls will close at 7 p.m. EDT.
Some precincts -- especially in Fulton County -- are expected to extend voting hours, but none past 7:30 p.m., the AJC reports.

UPDATE 5 p.m. Tuesday

Turnout "predictably light" in Douglasville, our correspondent reports. "I feel very confident that Casey will take the day," says the Cagle supporter, offering what he calls " the most hair-brained reasoning I've ever articulated":
You see ... the elderly will turn out in their usual numbers. They're the bingo players and those bingo players who aren't particularly informed will vote for the first name on the ballot. I think you might find some experts who will validate my rather casual observation. My prediction is that the bingo players will push Cagle past Reed.
The scary thing: He might be right!

UPDATE 2:15 p.m. Tues. 7/18
Turnout reported light statewide. Georgia pollster Matt Towery has said a light turnout would work to Reed's advantage. We will see.

Our first exclusive Primary Day report comes from Cartersville (exurban, 45 mi. NW of Atlanta), where Darryl B. says about 50 people were on hand at 7 a.m. when the polls opened at Mission Road Elementary School. Darryl voted for Cagle.

Sign wars
Darryl mentioned something that I noticed during my visit to Georgia over 4th of July weekend. Outside metro Atlanta, Cagle has a strong advantage as measured by campaign signs. You see a good many Reed signs in suburban areas like Cobb County, but once you get out into the sticks, Cagle signs are far more numerous.

Towery explained this to me: Cagle has the active support of 3/4 of the GOP state senators, and these senators have combined their campaign-sign work with Cagle's. So if you are a supporter of a pro-Cagle senator, you're probably also a Cagle supporter, so when you put up your sign for the senator, you also put up a Cagle sign. And on roadsides and street corners , the senator's campaign crew also puts up a Cagle sign every time they put up a sign for the senator.

I suppose, then, that Cartersville's state senator is a Cagle man, which is why Darryl reports that Cagle signs outnumber Reed signs "about 10 to 1" up there.

* * * * *
As of Tuesday morning, the word from WXIA-TV in Atlanta:
(Video here.)

I've been blogging the Georgia Republican primary race between Ralph Reed and Sen. Casey Cagle since March. (For archives of our coverage CLICK HERE.)

As the only blogger outside Georgia to have paid this much attention to the Reed-Cagle race, I'll try to keep this site up-to-the-minute Tuesday with news of Primary Day in Georgia. I'll be phoning and e-mailing friends in Georgia to try to get their take on the election.

Our friend Joe at NoVa TownHall has praised DonkeyCons' coverage of the Reed-Cagle battle. However, from the beginning, the absolute #1 source for inside news on this race -- and for all Georgia politics -- has been the excellent Peach Pundit site. So if you can't find it here, be sure to check there.

The AJC reports that the candidates spent Monday making their final campaign tours of the state:
On the Republican side, Reed's whirlwind tour began in Savannah and stopped in Augusta, Macon, Valdosta, and Columbus, before wrapping up in Atlanta. ....

Cagle kicked off his tour in Albany, and then stopped in Columbus, Macon, Savannah, Augusta, Lawrenceville and Madison. He and Reed nearly bumped into each other in Macon; both had scheduled a news conference at the city's small airport at just after noon. ...

AJC's Baxter and Galloway give you a taste of the last-minute campaign battle going on in Georgia:

“You’ve probably heard that Ralph Reed worked for casinos and gambling interests. Reed even used Christian groups as a front to do that.

“But did you see that Ralph Reed was paid to lobby against protecting women in the Northern Marianas Islands from employers who pushed them into prostitution and even forced them to have abortions? Is that what you believe in?

“And to this day, Ralph Reed remains unrepentant and refuses to admit he was wrong. Paid for by Campaign Money Watch.”

No idea who pays the bills at Campaign Money Watch. But considering they're "trying to get the money out of politics," you can bet that if it's not George Soros, it's a bunch of other rich people. It's weird: Rich people against "big money" in politics.

Here is one former Reed employee explaining why he can't support Reed vs. Cagle:

Ralph Reed remains one of the most magnificently talented men I have ever met. ...

Luke 17:3 says “Take heed to yourselves: if your brother trespasses against you, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him.”

It is time for Christians to confront and rebuke Ralph Reed, not make apologies for him. If he truly repent (not just at election time), he can be a leader of unlimited potential.

Like I've said before, Reed's political skills -- in terms of organizing, tactics and communications -- are top-notch. But if you talk to people in conservative politics who've watched Reed in action, you get the definite impression of a man with a certain "whatever it takes to win" tendency that is way too common in politics today.

Dear Sadie ...

Here is Sadie Fields, head of the Georgia Christian Coalition, delivering the Reed campaign's talking points:
We don’t need outsiders or the media telling us who we should support. Try as you might to influence the outcome, the grassroots of Georgia will choose their own leaders.
Dear Mrs. Fields:

I was born in Georgia. Ralph wasn't.

Except for when I went to college in Alabama, I lived in Georgia the first 38 years of my life. Ralph didn't set foot in Georgia until he was 15.

Twenty years ago, while Ralph Reed was working in Washington, D.C., I was driving a forklift on Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

My brother -- also a Georgia native who lives in Douglasville and drives a truck for a living -- is about as "grassroots" as you can get. And he's doing everything he can to support Cagle. We've got close family in Cobb County, Fayette County, Carroll County and Troup County, and I don't know of a single one of them who supports Reed.

So please, Mrs. Fields, don't pretend that the opposition to Reed comes only from liberals, from the media, and from "outsiders." It's simply not true.