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Religious Right Has-Beens Try for a Resurrection

By Rob Boston, Church & State Magazine. Posted September 16, 2009.

Will financial and sex scandals sink the hopes of middle-age culture warriors Ralph Reed and Randall Terry? Don’t count them out just yet.

The last few years haven’t been easy ones for Ralph Reed.

The former Christian Coalition executive director and religious right strategist ran for lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006. Early on, the race looked to be a cakewalk. Political observers predicted Reed would easily win the position, use it as a steppingstone to the governor’s mansion and perhaps bag a Senate seat, or even seek the White House after that.

But Reed hit a serious pothole on his road to victory. His ties to disgraced casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff became an issue, and Georgia Republicans quickly threw Reed under the bus. On Election Day, he lost decisively to State Sen. Casey Cagle 56 percent to 44 percent.

Undeterred, Reed tried to reinvent himself as a novelist. In 2008, he published Dark Horse, a political thriller about an independent candidate seeking the White House. It tanked.

Although Reed worked for the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and helped Arizona GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain raise money in 2008, he has been mostly out of the limelight since stepping down as the head of the Christian Coalition in 1997.

With his political career on the rocks, and his attempt to become a Christian fundamentalist version of John Grisham in shreds, what is Reed to do?

One answer: Get back to basics. Reed recently announced that he is jumping back into the political fray by forming a new religious right group.

Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition will target white evangelical Christians but also reach out to new audiences, including Hispanics, blacks, women and young people.

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