Name at birth: Ralph Eugene Reed, Jr.
Ralph Reed is a political activist who rose to national fame as the young leader of the Christian Coalition, a group of religious supporters of the Republican party who shaped U.S. politics in the 1990s. Reed began his political career at the University of Georgia as a political intern and a leader in the College Republican National Committee. He graduated in 1985 and went on to earn a doctorate from Emory University in 1989. Reed was chosen that same year to be the executive director of the Christian Coalition, an evangelical advocacy group founded by Pat Robertson. Six years later, at the age of 33, Ralph Reed made the cover of TIME magazine, who called him "The Right Hand of God" for the influence he had in conservative politics. Reed left the Christian Coalition in 1997 and began his own consulting firm, Century Strategies. He worked as a "senior advisor" to the presidential campaigns for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and embarked on his own campaign for lieutenant governor of Georgia, but lost the Republican primary in July of 2006. Political pundits blame Reed's loss on his ties to convicted fraud Jack Abramoff, who paid Reed millions of dollars in a complicated lobbying scheme. (While Reed was publicly condemning gambling as immoral, he was secretly getting money from Abramoff's clients in the casino business.) The tarnish of the Abramoff corruption scandal didn't last long, however, and Ralph Reed was back in action for the 2010 election cycle, heading up his newly-formed Faith and Freedom Coalition, a conservative advocacy group.
After his 2006 political loss, Ralph Reed turned to writing novels and published Dark Horse (2008) and The Confirmation (2010)… Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff were pals from their days in the College Republicans, along with tax reform activist Grover Norquist (who was also involved in Abramoff’s casino scheme)… Reed says he became a “born again” Christian in 1983.