Anonymous mailing hits John Wilkinson in SD 50 runoff

 NewsTalk 810 AM in Royston is reporting that an anonymous mailpiece has landed in mailboxes in the 50th Senate District, claiming that candidate John Wilkinson:

– Never balanced a budget, never cut taxes, never created one job

– Refused to sign the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge

– Voted for democrats in 4 of the last 7 primaries

The only clue to the source of the mailer is an address in Young Harris. Union County property records show the house is a rental property owned by Lewis Bailey. We have so far found no connection between Bailey, a freelance photographer, and those involved in the 50th district contest. Bailey has not responded to an email request for comment.

While Republican Representative Rick Austin has also not responded to our request for information, he told supporters by phone Tuesday that he had nothing to do with the mailer and was unaware of it until he began receiving calls from constituents.

It has previously been speculated that the race between Austin and Wilkinson has become a proxy battle between pro- and anti-Cagle forces in the Senate.

As far as the claims made in the anonymous mailer, I visited and pulled Wilkinson’s voting record, which appears above. It doesn’t bear out the claim made about Wilkinson.

[UPDATED] I’ve replaced the partial vote history for Wilkinson with full available histories for both candidates. Hat tip to Brian Keahl of and Paul V. Rea of NewsTalk 810, who wrote the original story linked at the top, and who sent in the graphic.

Make of it what you will.


  1. philly369 says:

    Are you serious? This might have been a fatal error for Austin. At least have some substance if you’re going to go dirty.

  2. Archon says:

    Todd I went and pulled the data just to see (always like to verify for myself no offense) and it looks like that only goes back to 2004 and skips 2006 altogether. Which means it only covers 2004, 2008, 2010 for primaries and in that he voted D in 2004 so I guess we need to see the older history. Do you have that by chance?

    • Todd Rehm says:

      No offense taken. Trust but verify, and all that. If people learn one thing from me and my drivel here, that’s the lesson I hope they take home with them.

      I’ll ask the owner of the site if he’ll pull it going back further. It only populates the last however many for which it has data, and I think he has data going further back.

      Either way, though, I think that proves it’s a lie to say that “he voted for Democrats in 4 of the last 7 primaries.”

      The issue has been raised that the mailpiece might have meant 4 of the last 7 General Primaries. I’m open to that interpretation if anyone who has first-hand knowledge of what the designer of the mailpiece meant wants to shout out here in the comments.

      • 22bons says:

        If you just count primaries and not primary runoffs, the data presented here is not sufficient to falsify the claim. I think a fair way to verify or falsify the “voted D in 4 of last 7 primaries” would be to look at the five most recent primaries (10, 08, 06, 04, and 02) and the two most recent presidential preference primaries (08 and 04).

        • Todd Rehm says:

          It would have been easier if the writer of the mailpiece had said “4 of 7 Republican general primary elections.” Until they speak up, however, we have only the text of the mailpiece.

          If you asked me if what the last 7 Republican primaries were, I might say that meant the 2010 GOP Primary and Runoff, the 2008 Pres. Pref., Primary and Runoff, and the 2006 Primary and Runoff. Under that definition, which I think is fair and accurate, I’d say the 4 of 7 claim is disproven because he has voted as a Republican in the last five opportunities to do so.

          It is also fair and accurate to say that the 4 of 7 claim mean 4 of the last 7 Republican General Primary election, in which case we don’t have sufficient information to prove or disprove the assertion.

          That’s why I’ve changed the text of my post to reflect this issue and my comments.

  3. Toxic Avenger says:

    According to my source, Wilkinson started pulling GOP ballots starting in 2006, and has only voted Republican since then. However, before 2006 (my records show 2000 – 2004), he pulled Democratic primary ballots.

    So take that for what it’s worth.

  4. Word says:

    I’m certainly no rocket scientist and have never claimed to be very smart but……

    Wouldn’t you have to go back to 1996 or 1998 to see if it’s true? I really don’t want to believe that you are hiding something Todd?

    Why don’t you show us how he voted in the primaries for the following years.


  5. 22bons says:

    If this was targetted only to hardcore Republicans who themselves have never voted in a Democrat primary it may be effective. Otherwise it will insult a fair number of elderly conservatives who voted as Democrats for many years, but now consider themselves Republicans.

  6. Todd Rehm says:


    I provided the link above to where I got the voting record. Go there yourself and see if you can get any more information out of it than I have posted.

    If you want to make the point that maybe that 4 of 7 means 4 of 7 general primaries, and that to assess whether the 4 of 7 claim is accurate, you’d have to go back to 1994, fine, make that point.

    I’ve requested further vote history and will post it if and when I receive it.

    • Word says:

      Todd – I wasn’t accusing you of anything. Only playful humor. I personally don’t care but I’m not sure how you or anyone can make a case one way or the other without more data.

      • Todd Rehm says:


        You didn’t use the “playful humor” font so I couldn’t tell;-)

        See my response above to 22bons on this issue and note that I’ve changed both the text of the post and of my comments to reflect your point of view.

  7. GAgadfly says:

    The race in the SD28 runoff hasn’t gotten this nasty, but it also seems to have the pro- and anti- Cagle dynamic going on. The Lt. Gov. will reportedly be in Newnan tomorrow on behalf of Duke Blackburn, presumably putting Mike Crane in the Chip Rogers camp. Most voters probably aren’t paying attention, but clearly the powers that be in the Senate are.

  8. Archon says:

    Todd I just read the entire 810 story and it says Wilkinson hasn’t responded to clear up his voting record which is odd. If he is truly being maligned and he hasn’t been a lifelong Democrat then why not respond and show the stations your voting history? It would definitely make for a better story and make Austin look foolish or at least whomever is behind this. And second if he voted in the D primary up until at least 2004 then is it safe to guess that he would have voted against Gov Deal when he was the 9th district congressman? Maybe that is what Wilkinson doesn’t want discussed? Maybe he has been silent so no one actually looks deeper into who he is and where he has been. Just a thought

    • Todd Rehm says:

      I don’t know why Wilkinson hasn’t replied, or maybe he has and Rea hasn’t updated the story yet. Maybe Rea’s holding it for tomorrow.

      It’s not likely that he voted against Deal when Deal was Congress; Wilkinson lives in the 10th Congressional District.

      • Doug Grammer says:

        FYI, Gov. Deal did formerly represent that portion of Georgia in congress. He was elected to congress in 1992 and the maps were different then.

        • bowersville says:

          That’s true Doug. Governor Deal was elected in 1992 as a Democrat and re-elected in 1994 as a Democrat. Congressman Deal switched to Republican in 1995 when the Republicans took charge of the US House which was led by Speaker Gingrich.

  9. bowersville says:

    I love all this speculation based on none comments from Wilkinson with no mention of none comments from Austin and what conclusions can be drawn from what the meaning of Republican primary vs Republican general primary and what the meaning of is is all the way back to infinity or 1492, whichever comes first.

    The news article does state that Rick Austin told his supporters that he had no knowledge of the flyer until called. I’ll take his word unless something else comes out that shows otherwise. I could read quite a bit into Austin not giving a quote also. But….I’ll wait.

    The fact that pro Austin comments proliferate, or doubt cast on Wilkinson shows something though. The flyer was ill conceived and way too heavy handed. It’s gonna back fire on Austin whether Austin’s behind it or not. You don’t drive 16 penny nails with a sledge hammer now do you?

  10. Matt Stout says:

    So bowersville, is Toccoa finding something else to talk about instead of the terrorist arrests? 😉 Your comments on 11.o9 Election Results open thread indicate that you had something ambiguous up your sleeve for Toccoa to talk about regarding Wilkinson.

    Is this a joke?

  11. bowersville says:

    Matt, I hope you been waiting for a response. Just a little hint though. Unlike you, if you are the same Matt Stout on the Austin expenditure disclosure, I live here, I vote here and I don’t get paid.

    So other than your pay, what’s it to you who we elect in the 50th?

  12. Matt Stout says:

    As Congressman Broun’s field representative out of the Toccoa office, I was given resposibility for Rabun, Towns, Habersham, Stephens, Franklin, Hart and Banks. I really appreciated Rick Austin supporting Broun, even back in 2007 during the special election. But good luck buddy. What is your real name anyway?

    • bowersville says:

      Matt, as a field representative for Paul Broun in Toccoa do you appreciate the sleaziness of now two questionable flyers targeting John Wilkinson? As Paul Broun’s field rep in Toccoa, do you believe President Obama and Roy Barnes are attempting to place a Democrat in the State Senate? Or are you like the rest of us and see all this for what it is? Hogwash.

      Why hasn’t Rick Austin issued a statement condemning this trash? You are paid as a field rep for Austin. I gave Rick the benefit of the doubt when I read he denied knowledge of the first flyer yesterday to his supporters. Rick Austin jumped right on Peach Pundit when his disclosures were questioned. Why not now Rick? Is this what it’s come to, Any body that opposes Rick Austin gets trashed? That why ya’ll want names, ya’ll gonna trash the rest of us? Care to clear this up?

      • Doug Grammer says:


        You don’t see the humor of someone anonymous complaining about anonymous mailers?

  13. Dave Bearse says:

    Anonymous literature aimed at those incompetent to do anything more than vote a party label. It may be effective in garnering half of the dimwit vote (Dems have their share of dimwits too), but offputing to the independent and informed.

  14. Groseclose says:

    If Rick Austin is genuinely disgusted by this piece, which he should be, he should fire McElhannon. My guess, however, is he can’t do that without being a hypocrite himself.

    As noted above, the return address on the mailer is for a property that is owned by Lewis C. Bailey, Sr. Mr. Bailey, through the entity Sharpshooters Worldwide, has taken money from Sen. Balfour, Sen. Seabaugh, and Sen. Jack Hill, to name a few. These are the same members who Joel has taken money from either directly, or through the Georgia Republican Senate Trust since 2006.

    Moreover, Rick better figure out who sent out this mailer on his behalf prior to December 2, 2011, which is the next disclosure report due date. Under the plan definition of “contribution” in the Ethics Act, this was certainly something “of value conveyed or transferred for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election or election of any person for office.” Therefore, it has to be reported as an in-kind contribution from Lewis Bailey/Sharpshooter and it better be less than $1,300 or he owes Mr. Bailey some money. Otherwise, a failure to report will most certainly assure Rick faces an ethics complaint.

    The disingenuousness of this mailer can best be highlighted by the fact that Rick Austin had no problem accepting $1,000 from Democrat Tommy Irvin. Folks need to remember Rick missed half the votes during the last legistlative session. Hopefully, he want have problems missing his classes come January when he has more free time on his hands.

    • Doug Grammer says:

      Get real. Candidates can’t be required to hunt down everyone who slams their opponent for filing reasons, especially if it’s done anonymously. Rep. Austin should spend his time campaigning, not playing detective or apologizing for things he didn’t do. That being said, we should be able to fine those you send out anonymous mailers if we can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they paid for or sent it. Rep. Austin should say that he is against anonymous attacks. The average voter should give anonymous mailers their due amount of suspicion.

      As far s the content goes, I would have spun it the way Bill Simon did. “Out of the last 11 elections, John Wilkinson chose to vote Republican in only 4 of them. So, if he’s a Republican only 36% of the time, what kind of person is he the other 64% of the time?” Wilkinson’s voting record is his voting record, and those facts aren’t questioned.

        • benevolus says:

          Didn’t that case allow corporations and unions to set up PAC’s and create ads without identifying donors? In other words, anonymous attacks.

          • Doug Grammer says:

            I’m not sure if that case did that or not. If it did, I’m against it. If I have something to say, it’s got my name on it. I don’t think much of others who attack out of anonymity.

            Isn’t that right, GOPGrassroots? (Inside joke between GOPGrassroots and myself.)

  15. Darrin Johnston says:

    I’ve always been suspect of anyone who does alot big talking but then does not have the guts to tell the world your real name. If you feel so strongly about your position be man enough to tell us who you are. Don’t hide in the weeds and throw rocks. Childish.

    • bowersville says:

      What jump out there with our names so Rick Austin can trash us too? Is there some kind of political payback coming from Rick Austin for supporting John Wilkinson? These flyers are way over the top, we’re regular voting citizens and you’re suspect of us? What about Rick Austin? Are you suspect of him? With this trash coming out, I know I am.

  16. Matt Stout says:

    I didn’t know about the mailers, Rick didn’t know about the mailers, until people started receiving them in their mailboxes and calling Rick. I don’t know who this author is.

    This is not my style, and I would like to find out who is doing this. I don’t like it at all.

    I’ve only seen the first mailer that was posted above.
    I haven’t even seen the second mailer, don’t know what it is about.

  17. Darrin Johnston says:

    Gentlemen, let me make myself clear, my comments are directed 100% at you. I know Rick Austin and these mailers are not his style Having said that and using your words, by you “trashing” Rick Austin on this Blog and then not being willing to put your name on it, your no better than the person who is behind the mailers.

    • Calypso says:

      Darrin, there is a little gray ‘REPLY’ link in the bottom left-hand corner of each post. Perhaps if you’ll avail yourself to it next time you decide to respond to a poster, then it will be more clear as to whom you are replying.

      • Darrin Johnston says:

        Thank you and yes my apologies for my reply not being clear. In this instance, I was speaking to Bowersville and Groseclose but the message is to all who want to speak negatively of others while hiding their true identity.

        • Groseclose says:

          Darrin Johnson: Just like I have no reason to believe Darrin Johnson is not your real name, you have no reason to believe Groseclose is not my real name. (However, from your post, you do sound a lot like Bill Simon).

  18. Rick A. says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    As you can imagine, my phone and my life has been consumed for the last 48 hours by a couple of mailers that I had nothing to do with.

    Let me be very clear to you all: I had nothing to do with the mailers. I had no knowledge of them and I do not know the person who sent them. I certainly didn’t pay for them. I have publicly stated that, and I state it here as well. I condemn anonymous correspondences. Those who know me know that if I had done this, my name would have been all over it. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

    I got chastised by a little old lady this afternoon at the store for the mailers. She was pretty mad. I tried to explain that I didn’t have anything to do with it. I’ve run an issues based campaign, just like every other campaign I’ve run…and I still lost a vote for something that I didn’t even know was coming or have anything to do with. Go figure.

    To the person trying to help me or hurt me: Please stop. This is why people have a bad taste for politics.

    All the Best,

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