Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Reed & Cagle: TIED in Georgia Poll

Georgia Lieutenant Governor -- Republican
Casey Cagle ...... 37%
Ralph Reed ....... 37%

500 likely GOP primary voters, surveyed July 5-6 by InsiderAdvantage

The sample was weighted by age and gender, according to pollster Matt Towery who adds: "Cagle made major progress in eight days - moving up from a 32 percent-to-27 percent deficit, to even at 37 percent each. There is little doubt that his hard-hitting ad dealing with Reed's casino gambling lobbying issues, along with equally hard hitting direct mail and 'push' phone calls have damaged Reed a bit."

It's now one week until the July 18 primary, and this is the first time since the campaign began that a public poll has shown Cagle even. (Cagle's campaign people say their own internal polling has shown their guy leading since May.)

The candidates had their one and only TV debate Sunday night. Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff became the third man in a live, statewide debate between the two Republican candidates for lieutenant governor on Sunday, as Casey Cagle prodded Ralph Reed for his association with the convicted influence-peddler.

For the first 20 minutes of an hourlong debate, Reed's relationship with his lifelong friend and former business associate dominated the most tense meeting yet between the two candidates.

"It's clear that the Abramoff scandal is a national scandal, and it's one that will continue to haunt my opponent," Cagle said.

My brother who lives near Atlanta says Reed is counter-attacking hard with negative ads on Cagle, which is exactly what Cagle spokesman Brad Alexander predicted last week:
"Their first ad was an attack on Casey, and I expect them to continue that strategy. If Ralph's desperate, all he knows how to do is attack."
Oh, and here's an article about Ralph Reed's Abramoff connection:
Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, a respected evangelical group with close ties to Focus on the Family (FOTF), says his group became active in opposing the Jena casino in 2002 after Mr. Reed called: "He gave us the early intelligence on this." Mr. Mills says Mr. Reed told him that he had "some outside organizational interest" in seeing the casino defeated, and urged the Louisiana Family Forum to jump into the fray.

Mr. Mills said he exchanged information with Mr. Reed in the early stages of the opposition effort, but that's all: He didn't ask Mr. Reed to identify his "outside organizational interest," because "I knew that Ralph was a staunch opponent of gambling." That's the way other evangelicals acted as well: They trusted Mr. Reed, and apparently had no inkling that he was involved with Mr. Abramoff and was being paid by Coushatta funds. ...

Overall, the Senate Committee reported not only Mr. Reed's actions but noted a pattern of cover-ups. The report also showed scoffing at Mr. Reed's earlier reputation as a moral leader: When a tribal public-relations representative observed that Mr. Reed was an "ideologue," the report quotes Mr. Abramoff's reply—"as far as the cash goes."

That's from WORLD Magazine, an evangelical news weekly whose editor is Marvin Olasky -- the Christian activist often credited with helping inspire George W. Bush's "compassionate conservative" agenda. My co-author, Lynn Vincent, is features editor at WORLD.