ATLANTA – Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, unable to overcome his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, conceded defeat Tuesday in Georgia's Republican race for lieutenant governor.
In Alabama, George Wallace Jr. — son of the legendary Alabama governor and presidential candidate — lost his bid for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor to Luther Strange, a first-time candidate.
Reed 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 state Sen. Casey Cagle for the GOP nomination in a primary race that appeared closer than expected in recent months because of Reed's work with 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.
"If good decent people offer themselves in this state for public office, we can make this state a better place," Cagle said as he declared victory.
In the Alabama race, with 83 percent of the precincts reporting statewide, the unofficial count showed Strange had 90,201 votes, or 55 percent, and Wallace with 73,417 votes, or 45 percent.
Also, Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney faced voters for the first time since her scuffle with a Capitol Hill police officer. With more than a third of the votes in, the state's first black woman elected to Congress was in a dead heat with former DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson Jr., who is also black.
McKinney sought the nomination for a seventh term in Congress after the scuffle in March with an officer who stopped her when he didn't recognize her as she entered a House office building. A federal grand jury in Washington declined to indict the congresswoman, but she was forced to apologize on the floor of the House.