Two weeks before the Nov. 3 election, voters in District 3 for the Catoosa County Commission were sent mailers from write-in candidate Terry Crawford.
The mailer detailed why Crawford would be the true Republican conservative District 3 deserves. It also warned of a liberal agenda infiltrating Northwest Georgia.
The political shots were taken at the Republican candidate voters in District 3 chose in the August runoff, Vanita Hullander. Hullander, the political underdog, beat incumbent Jim Cutler.
Now, Hullander and others believe some of the most well-established politicians in the area are behind Crawford's write-in campaign. Chief among them is state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.
Mullis told the Times Free Press earlier this month that he is endorsing Crawford in the race and got involved only because he believes Hullander is not a real Republican.
After she won, Hullander wrote on Ernie Pursley's campaign Facebook page saying she supports him as a friend. Pursley is running as a Democrat to chair the commission. Hullander did not consider this an endorsement but rather a simple public display of support.
Jeremy Jones is vice chair of the Catoosa County Republican Party. Jones has said the party backs Hullander in the race.
However, that hasn't stopped Mullis, Rep. Dewayne Hill of Ringgold, Catoosa County Chairman Steven Henry and outgoing Commissioner Jim Cutler from publicly supporting Crawford as a write-in candidate, even though their party and its leaders support Hullander.
"Commissioner Jim Cutler won the primary but not enough citizens knew to vote for him again in the run-off," Mullis said in a statement on Crawford's campaign Facebook page. "It starts at our local level. Once we allow local Democrats to be elected who are backed by Republicans, we will lose our Republican majority in (Northwest) Georgia."
Along with the mailer that was sent out, a digital version started to circulate on social media that involved a meet-and-greet with Crawford. The flyer listed a number of local elected officials that tied them to Crawford's bid.
Those elected officials included state Rep. Steve Tarvin and Catoosa County Commissioner Charlie Stephens. Tarvin told the Times Free Press he did not agree to be listed.
"Terry Crawford's a good friend of mine. I've known him for years," Tarvin told the Times Free Press this week. "But Vanita is the Republican candidate and I don't want to get involved in that. I don't think it's appropriate."
Tarvin said he believes his involvement in the mailer was inadvertent and said he's not upset with anyone about it.
Nick Milwood, the mayor of Ringgold, has made a habit of speaking his mind directly to the people of the city through his own blog. On Tuesday, Milwood posted a few paragraphs of his own thoughts of who was behind Crawford's campaign.
"Terry Crawford has little to do with the current campaign for District 3 commissioner," Milwood wrote. "The feigned outrage about Vanita supporting her friend, who happens to be a Democrat, is not what this write-in attempt is all about."
Milwood mentioned Mullis' involvement in the District 3 race has something to do with Mullis maintaining commission support for the Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority, which Mullis is president of.
"Here in Catoosa County, we have the opportunity to know each other locally, and that's why these demonization tactics are particularly ineffective and inappropriate at the local level," Milwood wrote. "I'm sick of politicians working harder toward their own interest as opposed to the people they serve."
Crawford was reached Friday morning and was asked about the mailers. He told a reporter he was finding a parking spot and couldn't talk. When asked if he could call back at a better time, Crawford hung up.
Asked for comment on the flyer, Mullis said only, "I'm certain your story will favor Vanita Hullander. They all have."
Contact Patrick Filbin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.