Cobb County residents take part in the primary election voting at Noonday Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia, on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (REANN HUBER/REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia candidate named Sandra Bullock drops out after surprise win

Sandra Bullock, who won last week’s primary election for the Georgia House in part because she shares the same name as the famous movie star, withdrew from the race Wednesday, making way for the Democratic Party candidate she had defeated.

Bullock, who had never previously run for office, won the primary for an open seat representing the Smyrna area even though she didn’t meet with many voters, raise money or campaign.

Sandra Bullock, a retired Georgia Tech database administrator, won the Democratic Party primary election for a Smyrna-area state House district on May 22. She withdrew from the race Wednesday, allowing the second-place finisher in the primary, Erick Allen, to run in November’s general election. Photo contributed by Sandra Bullock
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bullock’s name made her instantly recognizable to voters, who were more familiar with the Hollywood actress who starred in “The Blind Side,” “Speed” and the upcoming “Ocean’s 8.”

Her withdrawal from the race allows her more established primary opponent, Erick Allen, to replace her on the ballot in a district targeted by Democrats to flip from Republican control. Hillary Clinton won the district with about 54 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Georgia Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office.

Under Georgia law, a second-place finisher in a primary who received at least 40 percent of the vote becomes the nominee when the winner withdraws more than 60 days before an election.

Allen, who has run for the House seat in the past three elections, will face Republican Matt Bentley in the Nov. 6 general election.

Bentley, an attorney, said he will focus on voters’ wants and needs in the upcoming campaign.

“If the Democratic group wants to nominate the candidate who lost in the primary, then that’s their prerogative,” Bentley said. “I’m going to work as hard as I can to win this general election.”

Bullock backed out of the race because of undisclosed health issues, said Michael Owens, the chairman for the Cobb County Democratic Party. Bullock didn’t return messages seeking comment.

“It was apparent to me that she wasn’t well. She had told me she found out she had health issues,” Owens said. “Erick Allen is the nominee, and he’s getting ready for the general.”

Allen, a consultant for a workforce development company, received 42 percent of the vote in the May 22 primary compared with 58 percent for Bullock. Allen didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Hollywood actress Sandra Bullock
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Bullock, a retired database administrator from Georgia Tech, said last week that she never expected to win the race. She decided to run for office after watching the Women’s March in January 2017 following President Donald Trump’s election.

She said she ran for office so she could strengthen security policies, advocate for gay rights and support public education.

The district seat came open after Republican state Rep. Rich Golick decided not to seek re-election so he could spend more time with his teenage sons, who are athletes preparing for college. Golick, the chairman of the House Judiciary Non-civil Committee, is retiring after 20 years in office.

House District 40 covers Smyrna, Vinings and Mableton in Cobb County and part of Buckhead in Fulton County.

Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.

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