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July 21, 2006

The Message Behind Ralph Reed's Loss

Not only has Ralph Reed been stopped from moving into the Lt. Governor's job in Georgia but the numbers in the Georgia primary portend low turnout from the evangelical base in districts where Abramoff-related corrupt Republicans are running.  A Diarist over at DailyKos has a very well documented post up this morning about the issues that apparently kept the base away from the polls.

The diarist, dengre, titles his post "Forced Abortions = Trouble for the GOP Hotlist".  He says:

The sweatshops, forced prostitution and forced abortions that Jack Abramoff and his GOP pals protected led the voters in Georgia to stop Ralph Reed in his tracks.

Going into Tuesday the consensus was that Reed's famed ground game would deliver thousands of his Christian Coalition Zombies and add another stunning victory for the Abramoff/DeLay/Rove wing of the GOP. It didn't happen.

Now there was a lot of corruption that Abramoff, Reed, Norquist, DeLay and their other Republican pals in Congress were responsible for.  The issue that brought it home for the evangelical base, as the diary title suggests, was the forced prostitution and forced abortions related to the system of sweatshops that Abramoff and DeLay enabled in the Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands (CNMI). 

Georgia has proven that this is a potent wedge issue for the fall elections.

It exposes the hypocrisy of the GOP. The Christians who they have bamboozled for the last twenty years are catching on to being played for suckers. They are staying home or voting against the folks who exploited their Faith.

This analysis from Jim Galloway of Cox News points to a larger loss to the GOP and the impact of forced abortions as a wedge issue between the Republicans and the Christians they've exploited for decades:

The Republican race for Georgia lieutenant governor between Ralph Reed and Casey Cagle made Christian voters so uncomfortable that many stayed home -- sending ripples up and down the GOP ticket on Tuesday -- Republican and religious activists said a day after the primary.

He goes on to talk about three local Georgia races and then quotes state GOP officials:   

"Those three races are the best indication that the right flank of the Republican Party stayed home," said Rusty Paul, a Sandy Springs councilman and former chairman of the state GOP.

"The moderate wing of the Republican party showed up, but the pro-Ralph side of the party went to the beach," Paul said. "It had an impact all up and down the ticket."

The diarist references GOP blog, Peach Pundit, for the actual numbers, which said that  477,771 people voted in the Democratic Primary and 416,749 voted in the Republican Primary for the top ticket races, despite the fact that the Reed-Cagle race was hotly contested.  Republican  primary participation declined 36% from 2004 while Democratic primary participation declined only 23%.

But the loss did not happen of its own accord.  An organization called Campaign Money Watch, a watchdog group, spent $100,000 to campaign against Reed.  David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, recognized that the Abramoff/CNMI/GOP connection is a potent wedge issue.  He says, "Politicians who place political money before morals ought to be very worried."

The organization, a project of the Public Campaign Action Fund, used their money on television and radio advertising as well as a recorded phone message delivered to 200,000 GOP voters in the last few days of the election.  This was when the race swung dramatically against Reed and for his primary oppornet, Casey Cagel.  Prior to that, the race had been too close to call.  Here was the message:

Reed took money from Abramoff's American Indian casino clients through a variety of conduits and manipulated Christian groups to act as fronts to oppose gambling competition for the tribes. He helped Abramoff oppose legislation to extend protections to women and children employed by sweatshops in the Northern Mariana Islands, despite the fact that our government had reported that the employers forced employees to enter the sex-tourism trade. When these immigrant workers inevitably became pregnant, they were forced to have abortions.

Reed never once said that it was wrong to take the casino money and use Christian groups as fronts. And he refused to acknowledge that it was widely known what was happening in the Marianas -- ABC's 20/20 did an expose in the 1998 -- years before he took on the lobbying work.

Here is an effective TV ad Cagle ran against Ralph.

It seems clear that precise informational ads that clarify the message about Republican corruption, and particularly the incredible hypocrisy that Abramoff and Reed personify, work.   Prostitution and forced abortions is definitely in that category.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 21, 2006 at 12:52 PM in Candidate Races, Strategery | Permalink

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