Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Election Results Please Gays in the South

Election Results Please Gays in the South
by Bob Roehr
Copyright by The Windy City Times

Gays and lesbians are savoring the results of July 18 primaries in the South, particularly two losses in Georgia and a win in Alabama.

Ralph Reed lost the Republican primary in Georgia for Lt. Governor by a convincing 56 to 44 percent. The victor was little known state senator Casey Cagle, who had trailed in the polls throughout most of the campaign.

Reed, 45, was the organizational brains behind the Christian Coalition during the height of its power in the 1990. He later became a political consultant and chairman of the Republican Party in Georgia. This was his first bid for elective office.

The GLBT community largely had focused their political energy on the Democratic primary and the bid by their “friend” Secretary of State Cathy Cox who was running for governor. They were stunned when Cox flip-flopped on the issue of gay marriage; some supporters even demand that she return their campaign checks.

Many in the community called for abandoning Cox and instead focus on the Republican primary with the aim of stopping Reed. Georgia has an “open primary” where people are free to choose which party primary they wish to vote in.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that automated phone messages were being delivered in white Democratic areas of Atlanta the night before the primary with the message, “Tomorrow morning, I’ll be voting Republican for the one and only time in my life, to stop Ralph Reed. If we let Reed win this election, we can kiss our freedoms good-bye.”

Cagel’s campaign denied sponsoring the calls. It is possible that they were funded by independent expenditures within the gay community, though no one as yet has claimed responsibility.

It is too early for analysis of precinct voting patterns to see if in fact gay-identified parts of Atlanta may have disproportionately affected the outcome of the primary.

The mainstream media has credited Reeds loss to his ties to disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Cox also lost badly. Gays had been an important part of her coalition but they abandoned her after the flip-flop, and the issue also played poorly among other parts of the Democratic Party.

Georgia’s only lesbian member of the legislature, Karla Drenner, won her primary. While Allen Thornell is heading for a run off in the Democratic primary in his attempt to win a seat in the legislature.


In Alabama, Patricia Todd appears to have eked out a 59 vote margin of victory in the Democratic primary to represent the 54th district in the legislature. Provisional and military ballots remain to be counted.

There is no Republican candidate running in the general election and barring a write-in upset, she would be the first openly gay or lesbian person to serve in the Alabama legislature.

The Human Rights Campaign sent a regional organizer to assist in the campaign and it called every one of the more than 200 members who live in the district, urging them to get out and vote, said HRC president Joe Solmonese.


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