LAWRENCEVILLE - A poll released Monday by Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Casey Cagle shows the state senator from Gainesville leading Duluth political strategist Ralph Reed in their GOP primary race.
According to the survey of 400 likely voters in the July 18 Republican primary, conducted May 9-11, Cagle led Reed 27 percent to 21 percent, with 53 percent undecided.
The poll, undertaken by Cagle campaign pollster John McLaughlin, was the first to show the lesser-known Cagle ahead of Reed, former national chairman of the Christian Coalition. Previous independent polls have given Reed the advantage.
"The people who are increasingly moving toward Casey are moving away from Reed,'' said Brad Alexander, spokesman for the Cagle campaign. "They've looked at Reed and saw something they don't like.''
Reed campaign spokesman Jared Thomas dismissed the poll's results, particularly since they come from the Cagle camp.
"We don't pay attention to a lot of polls ... even our own,'' Thomas said. "The poll we're focused on will take place on July 18, and we're confident we'll be in the lead.''
A breakdown of the poll revealed several results the Cagle campaign cited as good signs for their candidate.
Cagle led among all subgroups identified in the poll, even among the portion of the Republican Party considered Reed's base.
The senator's lead among respondents who identified themselves as conservatives was 26 percent to 24 percent, while he led among evangelical Christians 24 percent to 23 percent. Both, however, were well within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.
"To be leading a race when your opponent has more name recognition than you do is very unusual in polling,'' Alexander said.
Cagle has been on the attack for much of the race, citing Reed's personal and business relationships with disgraced former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
But the senator's first campaign ads, beginning today on cable TV channels, will be biographical in nature, Alexander said Monday.
Reed has yet to run ads, and Thomas said his candidate won't hit the airwaves a day sooner just because Cagle now has beaten him to the punch. Thus far, Reed's effort has been crisscrossing the state under the radar, although he did have former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani down to Atlanta last week to headline a fundraiser.
"We've got a plan we're going to execute,'' Thomas said. "It's not going to be determined by the actions of our opponent.''
In November, the winner of the Cagle-Reed contest will face the Democratic primary survivor among five candidates seeking that party's nomination for lieutenant governor.