It's official. Former Farm Bureau president Stanley Reed of Marianna is in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to oppose a woman he's supported with financial contributions, Sen.Blanche Lincoln.
Reed filed papers today with the Federal Election Commission to establish a campaign committee.
Former Stephens Media conservative columnist David Sanders will be Reed's campaign manager. I now know why Davis did not immediately return my e-mail messages inquiring about persistent reports that he'd been talking to Reed about a job. Sanders has spoken highly of Reed in his work and in his on-air appearances on AETN, which will come to an end. A reader notes that Sanders' column today said Reed would make a big splash "if" he ran. Hmmm.
My tip came from someone close to Reed, but shortly Reed himself confirmed it to reporters with whom he will speak (not me). They included Roby Brock, posted here.
You can expect other Republican candidates to immediately question Reed's GOP bona fides. He's been a Democratic primary voter and a contributor to Lincoln and Bill Clinton. He's conservative enough to pass, however, including particularly unappetizing on hot button social issues. His money men will be former Hog and real estate man Jim Lindsey, who has engaged Lindsey to manage his farm property, and Reynie Rutledge, the First Security Bank leader with whom Reed also shares business interests.
Reed is the 8th announced candidate. Can Jim Holt be far behind? Or perhaps he could be an outreach worker for Reed.
Is utility political infielder Bill Vickery in the Reed campaign, too? He's been spotted meeting with Reed in recent days at the Peabody and Capital. (Small town, fellows.)
Reed can raise money. His name recognition ends at the Farm Bureau and the small political world that follows the UA Board of Trustees, which he once chaired. (His popularity there is mixed. A secret effort by Lindsey to get Reed chosen to succeed Alan Sugg as president of the UA System was scuttled by vociferous objections from some other powerful trustees when it got leaked on this blog.) He has no natural voter base. He'll be looking to pluck votes from the scattered Republican strongholds in a state that has rarely turned out huge votes in Republican primaries. But the Senate contest will be the marquee race of the season, absent a primary challenge to Lincoln, so that could turn out more voters. Interesting. That's what it will be.