Last Tuesday night, a group of lobbyists hosted a fundraiser for a candidate running for a state office in 2006 at a political club on Capitol Hill, an event as routine as the coming of the cherry blossoms in Washington.
But the list of hosts was particularly long and impressive for a first time candidate running in a primary for the relatively lowly job of Lieutenant Governor in Georgia. Gary Bauer, Wayne Berman, Charlie Black, Morton Blackwell, Julie Cram, Susan Hirschmann, Jack Kemp, Brian Lunde, Grover Norquist, Bill Paxon, Ed Rogers, and Vin Weber were among the powerbrokers that invited folks to come to the Capitol Hill Club, a wining and dining spot right next to the Republican National Committee. The guest of honor? Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and southeast regional coordinator for the 2004 Bush campaign.
Reed has been a political consultant in Georgia since he left the Christian Coalition in 1997. He is widely credited with the huge GOP success in Georgia in 2002 in which he mobilized the religious conservatives to oust Democratic Senator Max Cleland and Governor Roy Barnes. He then became the Georgia Republican party chair. In 2006 he is trying to become the Lt. Gov. to Governor Sonny Perdue, the man he helped put in office in 2002.
Reed has been a major player in Republican politics since the 1980s. He came to Washington at the age of 19 and through College Republicans he made two lifelong friends -- Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist. Norquist is now one of Washington's top lobbyists and a keeper of Republican doctrine on tax matters. Abramoff is now one of Washington's most visible lobbyists because he's enmeshed in the biggest K Street scandal in a long time.