Someone opposed to Reed has to be feeding the AJC the stories and Occam’s Razor suggests we go with Cagle’s camp . . .

Okay, so back to the Reed event rumor. I know both of the guys who were put on as hosts and who allegedly did not want to be hosts. I have tried contacting them to see, but haven’t heard back yet. I’m leaving that as a rumor.

Knowing one of the chairs of the event rather well, I’m pretty sure that, were something like this to happen, it would have been more a communication problem than a “they put on a host who did not want to be there” problem.

Let’s back up to what we know thus far about this race:

The AJC is beating the hell out of Reed over gambling.

Reed denies the charges and most of those around him also deny the charges — though by reading the AJC you’d think only Reed was denying the charge.

Several of the folks tied to Cagle really don’t like Reed. They have, how shall we say it, a vested interest in making sure Reed does not get elected — more so than they have making sure Cagle does get elected, though that would be a side benefit.

But, here is where it gets interesting:

Right now very few people are paying attention except the contributors. I’m hearing that some contributors were getting antsy, but that the Reed campaign has, in the past couple of weeks, done a phenomenal job of quelling rumors and reassuring contributors. As a result, what looked like a possible dip in contributions over this issue, was nothing more than a blip.

My DC sources who were saying that Reed may be in jeopardy, are now saying that not only are they in it now for Reed, but we should be soon seeing some of Reeds longtime adversaries lining up behind him — if not publicly, then privately where they will either keep their mouths shut or whisper nice things in the ears of those who can help. Some of the big conservative names besides Zell Miller and Sean Hannity will most likely be coming out for Reed before the summer is up. In fact, I got a phone call this morning from a trusted source inside the Beltway who says the word on the street is that Reed “is golden” — a rather hip way of saying that Reed is in good standing with folks you might think he wouldn’t be in good standing with.

In the grassroots circles in Georgia, two questions are circulating: (1) is Reed damaged and (2) will that damage knock him out.

Not surprisingly, the answer to the first is yes. Reed has been damaged — but not in a major way. He has a loyal following among many grassroots activists and his campaign, though flying under the radar, has already built a statewide campaign structure, but an outside observer would never know it.

The answer to the second question is a decidedly firm no. Interestingly, one outside observer told me that what some view as a Reed handicap — issues related to the Georgia flag — will actually help him. Flaggers, who have been targeting this site with anti-Reed comments, are making some in the Georgia GOP nervous. These nervous folks do not want a repeat of the flag issue and the flaggers have already gone around the state with “Punt Perdue” signs, which are not helping them with the Governor. Having the flaggers so antagonistic toward Reed has left some with the impression (though all my sources are adamant that the answer is no) that the flaggers are firmly with Cagle. My sources tell me that the flaggers are not so much with Cagle as they are against Reed. But, with folks realizing letting the flaggers out of the bottle will only set the state GOP back, the more vocal the flaggers are against Reed, that may ironically help him. Getting Reed elected will, some in the know feel, put a firm lid on the flaggers.

Another factor weighing in on the no side is money. Look for Reed to blow Cagle out of the water at the June 30 filing. While the AJC has been firing lots of bullets at Reed — and let’s all be honest, it may be the AJC doing it, but those of us who have been in the business long enough know someone opposed to Reed has to be feeding the AJC the stories and Occam’s Razor suggests we go with Cagle’s camp — no one is really paying attention. By the time people do start paying attention, Reed will be able to hammer through with money.

The conclusion is rather simple. This is still Ralph Reed’s race to lose. There is still a year in which he could lose it. But, there is still lots of money for Reed to tap into and when he starts up his full communications strategy, we probably all want to stand back and watch. Despite what you may think of Reed, give him credit for one thing — he is a master of politics. And if you disagree with me, you are underestimating Ralph Reed. Better break out your Art of War.

Oh, one last humorous point — a good friend at the RNC who has no dog in the fight had a conversation with me yesterday. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Ralph is behind the AJC stuff. “Huh?!” I remarked. He said that Ralph Reed has lots of folks who revile him as some sort of Christian anti-Christ. Most of these folks have no problem with gambling and have no problem with the lottery. “So, Ralph had something to do with casinos? Big deal,” he says. “That may hurt him with the Republicans in Georgia who vote in primaries, but that’ll only soften his image among those who’ve only though of him as the anti-Christ.”

I don’t know that I’d agree with that, but it is an interesting point to consider.