Whitehead: The Untold Story

The recriminations have started in the Whitehead campaign and one thing seems very clear despite assertions to the contrary now that certain folks are in CYA mode: as soon as the primary was over, the Charlie Norwood crew made their move and convinced Jim Whitehead to shove his in-state consultant, Joel McElhannon aside and rely instead on Norwood’s old hands.

In the process, they spent their time planning Whitehead’s swearing in ceremony and sending out bulk mail fundraising letters instead of campaign pieces. I wonder who took a commission off those?

A look at the record of this race will show that as soon as McElhannon was shoved aside by Charlie Norwood’s staffers, the campaign stopped spending money on campaign mail, television ads, phone calls, polling, and all other campaign tools except radio in the Augusta area.

In fact, despite the advice of a number of people, Whitehead was advised by the Norwood staff to write off Athens altogether. He was told that they could win without Athens.

Broun was successfully able to bank on this and made the case that Whitehead would ignore Athens. Whitehead failed to response, thus proving Broun’s case.

With Norwood’s staffers now having to do damage control to salvage their reputation, they’ll probably start throwing blame everywhere hoping something sticks to everyone, but them. To put this in perspective, given Whitehead’s lead going into the runoff, he had over an 80% chance of winning the runoff.

Instead and contrary to the advice of all of his non-Norwood advisers, he got to planning his swearing in ceremony.



  1. Oh how I was laughed at when I said no one gives a crap (when it comes to voting) about Norwood or his wife. Looks like you can’t ride the Mrs. Norwood endorsement to Congress anymore than you can ride the Mrs. Coverdell one.

  2. atlantaman says:

    Barry Fleming has got to be feeling really sick tonight. I’m sure the promises by the Augusta establishment of, “Just let Jim have the seat for a couple of terms and then you’ll have our full support Barry. That way we won’t divide the Augusta vote and we’ll be guaranteed control for eternity” are ringing really hollow right now.

  3. AlanR says:

    Thanks for calling it out Erick — about the campaigns. A money advantage means nothing if you don’t spend it right. And no one ever voted for a campaign manager.

    La forza del destino. Whitehead would have been miserable in DC. And Broun will be nothing if not entertaining. You guys will have a lot more to talk about now.

    Congratulations to the Broun campaign.

  4. cheapseats says:

    Broun totally sucks ass! Whitehead was merely the second worst choice.

    Both guys should be behind bars rather than in Congress.

    The Broun campaign team deserves credit only for sucking less than Whitehed’s totally inept team.

    America the Stupid is no more obvious than in Georgia.

  5. GOPeach says:

    I wish I was in the land of cotton,
    Old times there are not forgotten;
    Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
    In Dixie Land I made my stand
    To live & die in Dixie
    Look away! Look away!
    Look away! Dixie Land.

  6. meaculpa says:

    Plots and subplots.

    First, if I lived in the 10th District, I would have voted for Whitehead. Just think he was better qualified.

    That said, I have to admit, I take no small delight in seeing the “establishment” take one on the chin.

    The county party chairmen who endorsed Whitehead, the money-givers and those in Augusta who chased Rep. Fleming out of the race and handpicked Whitehead, deserved to be reminded, you don’t run the world.

    Will Paul Broun be an embarrassment as Congressman? Probably not.

    Once in D.C., almost all votes of consequence fall along party lines, and I would expect Broun’s voting record to be similar to the rest of the Georgia Republican delegation.

    And judging on the campaign, Broun might do a better job than Whitehead in avoiding headline-grabbing gaffes.

    But I still can’t help grinning a little seeing little Div I-AA Paul Broun exploit every mistake powerhouse, #1 ranked Div-I Whitehead made and win the game.

    And what of the NRA’s clout and power as an invincible political machine?

    The NRA endorsed candidate (Whitehead) — who I would assume received the benefit of NRA money, NRA mail and NRA phone banks — bested by their little ol’ rival, the Georgia Sport Shooting Association. Gee, somehow the NRA doesn’t seem so formidable these days.

    Been a rough year for the NRA and one has to wonder if their clout is waning somewhat. The frigtards ended up pissing off just about every Senator at the Capitol with their heavy-handed tactics and threats of scoring Senators who didn’t vote with them an “F” on the next NRA scorescord. Maybe Jim would have been better off with an “F.”

    Gun owners in Georgia are already fuming at the NRA for the deal they struck with New York liberal Democrat McCarthy on new gun control legislation. And for sacrificing on the altar of their own massive egos the opportunity to enact real pro-gun legislation (see Rep. Bearden’s legislation) for their take your gun to work bill. Thanks to the NRA lobbyists, none passed.

    Who knows, maybe the blame for Whitehead’s loss lies with the Norwood folks, maybe it lies with Joel Mc., but the buck stops with Jim Whitehead, who — with a substantial financial advantage, the backing of the business and political establishment, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the NRA, and a district that significantly favors an Augusta candidate, fumbled the ball.

    To Broun’s political credit, he picked it up and ran it into the end zone.

    And why is it that Whitehead’s old team mates at UGA and friends in Athens and from the University never countered the obvious hemorrhaging of support in Clarke? From here, they seemed silent, disengaged, disinterested.

    100-1 odds, if Barry Fleming had run, and with Jay Walker as his consultant, there would be a Congressman Fleming tonight. And Fleming and Walker probably would have avoided a runoff.

    Sometimes, it’s fun seeing the underdog upset the establishment’s carefully laid plans.

  7. Donkey Kong says:

    I must say, I didn’t see this one coming. Congrats to the Broun camp. Stout, Echols, et al did a hell of a job.

  8. Kepper says:

    @Erick: Where are you getting your information? I’m REAL close to the campaign and I’m calling Bullsh!t. I haven’t heard any such thing about Joel being pushed aside.

  9. Donkey Kong says:

    And, I’ll add in one other thing. I know, I know, this will sound disingenuous based on the results. But if you look at the issues, there is not much difference between Broun and Whitehead. One is just more establishment than the other.

    Broun’s efforts to differentiate himself was from Whitehead’s poor election decisions (i.e. not showing up at debates, bomb UGA, et al). On issues they were similar. All of Broun’s press releases and mailings that I saw that attacked Whitehead on issues were based purely on circumstantial evidence. There may be a large difference, and if so, I’ll stand corrected, but I don’t think the voting record of Rep. Broun and Whitehead will be that different.

    Echols and Stout did a great job painting Whitehead as someone who just doesn’t care, using the bomb UGA quote to demonstrate that he doesn’t care about Athens, and using his absence at debates to show that he doesn’t care about the voters. And, since Whitehead was viewed as the establishment, Echols/Stout also excelled at portraying Whitehead as a member of the same GOP that the base feels is out of touch. I didn’t think this would have a large effect, but hat tip to the Broun team for seeing differently.

    Rep. Broun ran as someone different from the GOP standard, a true conservative. Its become trite to say that, only because those whom I hear claim to be different are nothing but the same.

    Rep. Broun, congratulations on your victory. You surprised me with your victory last night, and I hope you’ll surprise me in the House by living what you ran on–the conservative Republican that we all need.

  10. tml says:

    To the person who had previously mocked the “sign guy” for the Broun campaign on this site – he gets the last laugh!! Congrats to all who worked so hard for Paul – I’m sure he appreciates it!! And Paul, we’re looking for you to do great things!

  11. jsm says:

    LOL! So much for statistics. I look forward to seeing what Broun does in D.C. I’m sure he will generate some interesting sound bytes.

    One older man I know from Jackson County told me he was voting for Broun because he seemed to be the only candidate who really wanted the job. He hadn’t received any mail from Whitehead until the day before the first vote. I thought his logic was flawed, but apparently a lot more people saw it his way.

  12. Jace Walden says:

    As much of a “good ole boy” as Whitehead is…I’m glad he lost. His criticism of Broun for being fiscally conservative on entitlements and spending is proof that Jim wasn’t really serious about reigning in spending and cutting entitlements.

    Additionally, congrats to GOPeach for sticking with her man to the end and it paid off. I’ve been one to make fun of her for always backing the loser…well, she proved most of us wrong. So, as much as it pains me to say it, good job Peach.

    I’m not particularly thrilled about Broun’s social authoritarianism, but at the very least we might actually have another fiscal conservative in Congress…I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  13. debbie0040 says:

    The radio news programs were playing it as an Athens vs. Augusta battle and Athens won.

  14. drjay says:

    well since the nexus of gop power in this district still tilts toward w. augusta and columbia county (special election results aside) and these special elections by their nature are quirky and clearly hard to predict–i realize this one is not yet certified–but assuming broun wins–do the powers that be in the augusta area find a primary challenger for broun–maybe fleming this time–or ron cross or lee muns or even bob young–or will broun get the full spoils of victory and have the rest of the district line up behind him???

  15. debbie0040 says:

    I have heard the rumors about Joel being pushed aside . The Whitehead camp denies it.

    I do know one thing and that is the lack of campaigning in the latter weeks by the Whitehead camp is not indicitive of the type of competive campaign Joel has run in the past.

    I have to conclude that he probably was not calling the shots.

  16. Mark Rountree says:

    Folks, we here at Landmark weren’t involved in this election. So for once, I’ve enjoyed the liberty of blogging about it.

    Here’s my take of it: Joel wasn’t swept aside — because he was never running it in the first place.

    From the very beginning, Joel was hired as a “front man” for the Norwood folks. They ran it, and those of us in the political consulting industry knew it.

    No one around here seems to want to name Norwood’s folks by name, but we’re talking about Michael Shaffer, John Stone and John Walker. Smart guys, but a bad campaign.

    They wanted to run it, but wanted someone they could control, someone they could give money to and be a front man. But the truth is they didn’t trust Joel in their own back yard to make decisions.

    The problem is, Joel bought off on the role.

    He put himself in the Atlanta Newspapers, including with the overtly stupid comment about Whitehead “coming to Athens, and Hell’s coming with us!”

    Pretty damaging comment when you are trying to win the religious right. And also stupid when the comment simply highlighted to Athens residents just how removed Whitehead had become from Athens. It sounded virtually threatening unless you saw the movie Tombstone.

    Norwood’s folks wanted a straw man. They got what they wanted. This disaster is not Joel’s fault, he’s just the guy with the fingerprints on it.

    But as a smart man once said — if the glove doesn’t fit

  17. I Am Jacks Post says:

    I’m interested to see Whitehead’s disclosure, and to see if there were any Norwood people who made money off the race via their personal business interests.

  18. Donkey Kong says:


    One thing I said from the beginning was that Broun had Athens plastered with signs months before Whitehead had any type of campaign set up. It may have been Broun/Echol’s initiative to start that early, but it was their “sign guy,” Matt Stout, that executed wonderfully. I know him well and I can’t tell you how many times I’d talk to him late at night throughout the campaign, especially early on, and he was out working. This man is a machine.

    I ended up supporting Whitehead in the end, but I leaned towards Broun for the first couple months of the campaign, if for no other reason because I saw how hard they were working.

  19. CHelf says:

    Knowing those names listed and their history in this district I believe that deep down they really believed loyalty to Charlie and Charlie’s closeness to Whitehead would be all that was needed. Just look at the focus, lack of spending, etc. Look at Greene and Putnam…Lake Oconee crwod with VERY close ties to Norwood. It’s safe to assume they put this on cruise control and expected years of Charlie brought some capital and Team Whitehead was cashing in.

    Broun’s people saw this and exploited it as if “Whitehead doesn’t care” for those outside his senate district.

    As for the future of the district Whitehead is still sitting on some cash. What does he do with it? I think he’s finished on being able to run again after all of the internal fights that develop.

    All of this is IF the numbers still hold up for Broun.

  20. LakeGuy says:

    Well, this whole deal is an absolute shock. I don;t know that I have ever been more surprised.

    But we should have known, as soon as the idiots from the Norwood Camp took over Whitehead’s race, that there was no where to go but a downward spiral.

    Norwood’s people had never run a tough campaign and were nothing but arrogant idiots, and they cost Jim Whitehead this election.

    Jim Whitehead should be kicking himself in the ASS for allowing these idiots from DC to kick Joel McElhannon out of the picture after the primary.

    I guess, in the end, justice is served. Whitehead allowed these arrogant, ex-norwood staffers to take over, and their arrogance rubbed off, and they lost. Whitehead is kicking himself, Norwood’s people are out of jobs and thank God out of the picture in the 10th Congressional District, and Joel McElhannon has the last laugh—he was booted out of the Whitehead Camp, but was hired by Fred Thompson.

    Justice is always served in large, painful doses.

  21. bowersville says:

    I have the same complaint during the runoff with the Whitehead campaign that I had with them at the beginning.

    You can’t sit on your duffs and expect the votes to come your way, you have to work for them.

    Side note: Not detracting from Broun and team, it’s quite apparent they were willing to work hard for this, but if anyone believes Broun ran on a fiscal conservative platform in the run off, you’re mistaken.

  22. CHelf says:

    Why is it that BEFORE election day all I heard was how well the campaign was going and how Whitehead would win with 60% of the vote and now AFTER election day all I hear is how long this crap has been going on and those Norwood people have been running the campaign into the ground. It’s odd that after the results showed otherwise the story on the success of Team Whitehead from Whitehead supporters has drastically changed.

    Did ANYONE say anything on here about how lousy of a campaign this was BEFORE the election?

  23. Nicki says:

    Here are my reasons for voting Broun, and feel free to mock me. And note that I’m a liberal-leaning moderate (pro-death penalty, pro-2nd amendment, pro-civil rights, pro-liberty and free speech, pro-fiscal conservatism, pro-choice), so neither one is politically in line with me. But I am a voter, and I vote. So this time I voted for Broun because:

    1. Contrary to what’s written above, I got SO MUCH mail from Whitehead, and a lot of it made me angry. I got one with a fetus on it, I got a piece that made James Marlow look like an axe murderer and mischaracterize his positions, and I got a stealth letter from Peggy Whitehead that my husband mistook for legitimate correspondence. And I got nearly all of it in duplicate, probably because my husband and I don’t have the same last name. Note: sending a social liberal a series of wasteful campaign campaign pieces in lurid colors alleging superiority in god, guns, and gays makes social liberals inclined to vote AGAINST YOU.

    2. The money advantage and the arrogant attitude. Thanks for assuming your superior firepower wins the race and you don’t need Athens, Whitehead campaign. How’s it feel to be wrong?

    3. The Athens thing. Yeah, it was a joke. It was a poor joke. And I believe it indicates a lot of things about Whitehead, all of them negative. And dude, you sucked as a football player. On a mediocre team. It’s not a credential worth touting.

    4. Finally, Broun. I do know Paul Broun vaguely, and he’s always been a kind, gentlemanly type. His friends are nice people, he’s a nice person, and he has a lot of people supporting him who aren’t nearly as conservative as he is. So I believe that he will make a fair effort to represent all of his constituents. Anyway, I believe it far more of him than of Whitehead.

  24. Donkey Kong says:

    Your other criticisms of Whitehead are legitimate, though we may disagree on a few. This, however, is absurd:
    “3. The Athens thing. Yeah, it was a joke. It was a poor joke. And I believe it indicates a lot of things about Whitehead, all of them negative. And dude, you sucked as a football player. On a mediocre team. It

  25. GOPeach says:

    Nikki –

    You are my kind of democrat! You go girl!
    I am sooo glad you make your point known!

    YOU are soo RIGHT about Dr. Braun!

    He is a CLASS ACT! A salt of the earth type.

  26. IndyInjun says:

    Erick wrote – “Instead and contrary to the advice of all of his non-Norwood advisers, he got to planning his swearing in ceremony.”

    Yup. The first indication here was when he said he was going to do everything in his power to see Saxby reelected.

    Best WIN before making plans for whose campaign is next to be orchestrated.

  27. IndyInjun says:


    I was there when Jim Whitehead announced. He made pretty bold statements about the GOP going astray, which made me believe that he would campaign with a LARGE degree of independence from the national GOP.

    The national GOP is poison and will destroy the party at all levels unless we conservatives aggressively confront and defeat them.

    Alas, the Jim Whitehead of day one was co-opted and dominated by Norwood’s staff into sounding like just another DC hack. This wasn’t the Jim Whitehead I have come to know and support.

    If he runs for any office in the future I will be with him, but his positions in this race were abominable.

    CONSERVATIVES have HAD IT with the establishment GOP.

    If the party doesn’t get this message, 2008 will be a wipe out.

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