The Hill Names Rick Allen As Most Underrated Candidate

The Hill released their “Best and Worst of the Midterms” today and it included Rick Allen, Congressman-elect from GA-12, as its “Most Underrated Candidate.”  Part of their brief review stated:

Allen, who finally beat him, didn’t fare well in 2012, and GOP operatives privately worried the wealthy businessman would be seen as out of touch with the rural district. But he won the primary outright in 2014, retooling his campaign team and message.  Allen hammered Barrow as voting too often with the president en route to a 10-point win.

While I am glad that Rick Allen is on the list, the Hill’s analysis is a little lacking. Rick Allen did very well in 2012, losing the primary runoff by only 159 votes against Rep. Lee Anderson in Allen’s first ever campaign. Rep. Anderson was the first candidate out of the gate and he secured key endorsements, including the Governor, General Assembly members, and local elected officials and Sheriffs. Despite all of these challenges, Allen came extremely close to being the Republican nominee. I think that with one more week in the runoff in 2012 that Allen would have won the primary and the general election.

It is also a little off in why Allen won the race in 2014.  While obviously GA-12 is a Republican-leaning District and Obama did not fare well here in 2012, it was more than just an anti-Obama message that brought the victory. My personal analysis of the race based upon my experience with GA-12 elections over the last decade is below.

The Ground Game

This was, by far, the best ground game since 2006. The credit for this goes to the GAGOP and the RNC. John Padgett, Adam Pipkin, Bard Hughes, Joe Dendy, and others had the foresight to open two offices in GA-12 at strategic locations. Offices are just buildings, though, so they also had to bring in the right people to run the them. The two regional directors, Ryan Purvis (Augusta office) and Natalie Jones (Statesboro office), led volunteers, including GA-12 Chair Mike Welsh, in making over 300,000 voter contacts since November, 2013. Barrow’s ground game came very late in the election cycle and was nowhere as massive in outreach. Thank you Natalie and gentlemen.


Barrow couldn’t drive the narrative

Since the 2006 election cycle, Barrow was able to keep the Republican nominee on the defensive. In 2006, he used the infamous “Max Tax” advertising against Max Burns that was ultimately too difficult to overcome. In the next 3 election cycles, Stone, McKinney, and Anderson did not simply have the money to go on the offensive or to really defend their positions. Allen had the money to run his message, while the NRCC kicked in their own advertising to go after Barrow strongly.

Allen was a good candidate

Rick Allen did the right things in this election. He hired the perfect campaign manager in Lauren Swing. She listened and was available. He surrounded himself with a strong campaign team that worked hard, yet were genuine and simply good people that were hard not to like.

He actually stayed active and remained in GA-12 after his 2012 primary defeat, which several previous candidates had not done. He was humble, honest, and real. He admitted that he needed help, prayer, and support. He was confident when others were not. Allen was willing to debate Barrow.  He honestly thought he could win by the margin that he ultimately did. It was not arrogance, but a carry over from his business experience of seeing positive results from hard work.

Rick did not come off as just an out-of-touch rich man who was born with a silver spoon. Allen worked 37 years building his business from the ground up, which people in GA-12 can respect. He also is quick to give credit to his company’s employees and his wife and family.

Allen’s Wife

Robin Allen is a wonderful woman and her impact on this race cannot be forgotten or understated. She traveled all across this district speaking with voters, both from the stage and person to person. She worked alongside the campaign team and spent countless hours doing campaign work behind the scenes. It really felt like we had the opportunity to elect a strong duo and not just one person.

Ric Stewart

If you followed the GA-12 race, you probably heard about Barrow voting 85% of the time with Obama. This figure came from a fundraising letter that was sent out by Barrow to several people. The copy used in the advertising came from Ric Stewart, a Peach Pundit commenter and a GA-12 resident. Two years ago, he provided me with a copy of the fundraising letter, which I provided to the Anderson campaign. While Anderson could not fully use the letter to his advantage, the NRCC and Allen’s campaign certainly did. Thank you, Ric.

Feel free to disagree with me. This is simply my personal take. I am an officer in the Republican party, so I may be somewhat biased in my overview. However, if you know me in “real life,” you know that I tell it like I see it.


  1. rpurvis says:

    Thanks for the shoutout, Lawton. It was a team effort. Couldn’t have done without my co-worker and folks that actually believed in what we were doing.

  2. rightofcenter says:

    Thanks for the insight. Although I am not in the district, I saw plenty of the ads on Macon TV. I thought Barrow’s ad about Rick making millions on government contracts was so dishonestly worded that it made it unbelievable except to the most naïve (for that ad to be effective, one would have to believe that there was something inherently evil about a construction company doing government construction projects, and then think that those projects resulted in 100% profit for the contractor).

  3. BuddyFreeze says:

    One of the strongest campaigns and candidates in the country. If you had a chance to see one of the last sit down debates on a local Augusta TV station. John Barrow was visibly agitated and defensive. I’ve never seem him act like that before ever.

  4. northside101 says:

    Nor did it hurt (Allen’s chances) that both Perdue and Deal polled 57 percent in this district in the November 4 general election—and that under its current boundaries, the district had a 58 percent GOP voting average in the 2010 statewide partisan contests. A generation ago, a district like the 12th (one-third black in voter registration) would have been handily held by a Democrat (think as some examples Charles Hatcher and Roy Rowland in the 1980s in the 2nd and 8th Districts). Not anymore. Especially noteworthy was Barrow taking a beating in the rural portions of the district—the Augusta area was about a 50/50 split (Columbia and Richmond Counties combined), but almost all the rural counties went heavily for Allen. Rural Georgia also played a major role in the wins of Perdue and Deal, both of whom only ran about even with their Democratic opponents in metro Atlanta but won handily overall in the rest of the state.

  5. Brother says:

    The Georgia 12th lost the best congressman I have known in my lifetime with John Barrow’s defeat. I have never seen a congressman so actively engaged in his district, not just during elections, but in the full term. I saw him at grocery stores, McDonald,s, Farm Bureau, peanut processors, just meeting his constituents, listening and explaining, and seeing to their needs. His work was instrumental in Fort Gordon’s expansion, Augusta’s industrial development, local government services through many grants, the port of Savannah- I could go on and on. I know several people that his office helped individually with the red tape of their issues.
    I saw one of those folks last week that the congressman had helped both he and his wife get disability. He told me how he could not bring himself to vote for a Democrat. I believe this partisan attitude by many in the district that all their problems could be solved by getting rid of a Democrat- albeit a very conservative Democrat, was one of the major causes of Mr. Barrow’s defeat and our loss.
    The other major component was the negative advertising. I urged Mr. Barrow to vote for ACA, and I was disappointed that he did not. Yet the advertisements call him a “Liar” for claiming he had voted against it. Things are clearly different now, but when I was coming up, to be called a liar was fighting words. As I know for a fact that Mr. Barrow did vote in opposition of my request, the advertisement itself was not factual, and had I not known better, I would also question his veracity. I believe that ad in itself raised enough doubt about an honorable man to allow for his defeat.
    So, where does that leave us. We have lost a Conservative Democrat, who had demonstrated his effort to work between the parties to try to achieve a better outcome to the divided, uncompromising legislature. One whose life of service was truly dedicated to his district-even when he had to move three times. It leaves us with a freshman congressman in an already Republican led House of Representatives whose only promise is to oppose.
    I sincerely hope Mr. Allen can meet the expectations of all those that voted for him.

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