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Well, it’s probably for the best, seeing how Native American tribes are thinking of suing him and his buddy Jack Abramoff for defrauding them.  And he and Jack Abramoff thinking about bilking old, black Southerners out of their money in the Black Churches Insurance Program scheme probably didn’t help.

Georgia has an open primary system, and I’m hearing from a number of folks in Georgia who tell me that lots of folks voted the Republican ballot specifically to prevent Reed from going any further into the general election.  Gee, I just don’t get how Ralph Reed could gin up that much disgust among the voters of Georgia, do you?

(Oh yeah…wiping eyes…that was a good one.)

Reed’s concession speech pointed to just the sort of man that he is:

"We’re very proud of the campaign that we ran. It was a positive, hopeful campaign about the issues, about fiscal responsibility, about improving our schools through charters and choice, and about strengthening our values," Reed said. "Tonight, my candidacy for lieutenant governor comes to an end."

Yep, willing to play up that "values voter" falsehood to the bitter end. That’s our Ralphie.

Here’s a hint, real Christians don’t try to publicly use their faith as a manipulation tool, claiming to be against gambling while taking huge fees in order to help one gaming-interest tribe keep another tribe from opening a casino.  And then lie about it.  Nor do real Christians try to use their faith as a selling point to bilk church-going folks in an insurance fraud scheme.  Nor do…well, you get the picture, but I could honestly go on and on and on.

This probably wasn’t much help either:

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From left to right, convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, golf organizer Jason Murdoch, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, former Bush administration official David Safavian and Rep. Bob Ney, R-OH.  Quite the photo, isn’t it?  From the Canton Rep.

As one local media outlet puts it:

It was a stunning turnaround for Reed, who was making his first bid for elective office after working for years as a behind-the-scenes campaign strategist and leading the Christian Coalition and the state Republican Party. He vied with Cagle for the GOP nomination in a primary race that appeared closer than expected in recent months because of Reed’s work with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud and corruption earlier this year.

In attack ads and televised debates, Cagle hammered away at Reed’s connections to Abramoff, and asked whether Reed could face criminal charges for accepting more than $5.3 million from two Indian tribes. Reed has not been charged with a crime and has said repeatedly that he regrets the work he did with Abramoff. Reed said he was vindicated by a two-year Senate probe.

Have to say, I agree with Jesse Lee at the DCCC on this one:

So the saga ends. Congressmen such as Reps. John Doolittle, Richard Pombo, Jerry Lewis, Bob Ney, and Charles Taylor should take note

I’d like to hope that this is just the thin end of the wedge, and that the Republican Rubber Stamp Corruption Machine just got a big ole hitch in its giddy-up.  It’s tough to think of a more well-connected former College Republican smarm merchant than Reed:  his pal Karl Rove sits at the right hand of George Bush; his money buddy Jack Abramoff fed him cash for ages before being indicted; his pal Grover Norquist still wants to drown government in a bathtub; and so it goes. 

That Reed could be defeated so handily in an off-year election, with turnout as abysmally low as it was, shows an opening.  Georgia is a GOP stronghold, and a Bible belt mainstay to boot.  That Ralph Reed couldn’t gin up enough GOTV operations to win a primary election here says that a whole lot of traditional Republican voters aren’t a given any longer…and that if their disgust with the corruption and manipulative lying is high enough, they’ll just stay home.

Bob Moser’s article in The Nation was an eye opener for folks who didn’t understand the depth of snake oil salesmanship in the Reed "Christian Coalition" machine.  Here’s hoping this election was an eye opener for a lot of Reed’s flock, and that his defeat signals a shift from the previously easily led folks around the country – it’s about time something pulled the wool out of their eyes.

But I’m not banking on it.  Reed’s loss should serve as a catalyst for all of us:  there is an opening to win in November.  Voters can be persuaded to cast a ballot in their best interest if they are shown exactly how corrupt, how craven and how conniving a candidate really is.  That’s not dirty politics — in Reed’s case, it was simple honesty and it came from his Republican opponent. 

Republicans have not been afraid to put all the election issue cards out on the table.  Democrats should not be either. 

The future of our nation is at stake, and nothing short of working all of our collective asses off and campaigning with everything we have is acceptable.  Please, for the love of God and country, volunteer for a candidate in your area and hit the pavement, the phone lines, the radio call in shows, the post office with your letters to the editor…whatever it takes.

We have an opening, and we need to work as hard as we can to open things wider and let a whole helluva lot more sunshine into our government.  Let’s all get to work.

Had enough?

UPDATEHotline has more.  And I’d like to take a moment to say another thank you to Max Cleland, war veteran, patriot and decent man, who is probably having a pretty nice breakfast this morning.