- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

From combined dispatches

Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed was defeated yesterday by a conservative state senator in the Republican primary contest to be the state’s next lieutenant governor.

“I want to thank my heavenly father,” state Sen. Casey Cagle told cheering supporters in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth last night, shortly after Mr. Reed conceded defeat in his first bid for elective office.

“The good guys won tonight,” said Mr. Cagle, who captured 56 percent (129,842 votes) to 44 percent (103,597 votes) for Mr. Reed, with 64 percent of precincts reporting.

Saying that he regretted that his family had seen his “name dragged through the mud” during the primary campaign, Mr. Cagle added that he was “humbled” by the victory and that Mr. Reed had pledged his support in the November campaign.

In Atlanta, Mr. Reed told his supporters: “Stay in the fight. Don’t retreat. And our values will win in November.”

Meanwhile, Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney found herself in a surprisingly close contest with a little-known Democratic primary challenger.

Mrs. McKinney, an outspoken liberal who made headlines in March when she was accused of striking a U.S. Capitol policeman, had been expected to win re-election easily. But with 59 percent of precincts reporting in her majority-black district last night, Mrs. McKinney had 15,910 votes (47 percent) to 15,445 (45 percent) for Hank Johnson Jr., a former DeKalb County commissioner.

Mr. Reed, a veteran Republican strategist who previously served as chairman of the Georgia GOP, initially was considered a shoo-in for the Republican nomination when he announced plans to seek the lieutenant governor job last year.

That seemingly smooth path became rocky after revelations about Mr. Reed’s involvement in the casino lobbying scandal that sent lobbyist Jack Abramoff to federal prison. Earlier this month, Mr. Cagle — a conservative who has served 12 years in the state Senate — began airing a series of TV ads hammering Mr. Reed for his Abramoff ties.

In both the ads and televised debates, Mr. Cagle suggested that Mr. Reed could face criminal charges for accepting more than $5.3 million from two Indian tribes. Mr. Reed has not been charged with a crime and has said repeatedly that he regrets the work he did with Abramoff.

In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, current Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor last night claimed victory over Cathy Cox, Georgia’s secretary of state.

The two fought a harshly negative campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, filling the airwaves with barrages of attack ads. With 72 percent of precincts reporting last night, Mr. Taylor had 163,198 votes (51 percent) to 140,977 votes (44 percent) for Mrs. Cox, with two minor candidates splitting the remainder.

Either Democratic challenger would be considered an underdog in November against Mr. Perdue because Georgia’s voters have shifted strongly toward the GOP during the past decade.

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