Macon-Bibb County mayoral candidate C. Jack Ellis on Monday denounced a recent column in The Telegraph by pundit Erick Erickson as race-baiting, and called on incumbent Mayor Robert Reichert and other community leaders to repudiate Erickson.
“That’s what we should be afraid of, my fellow citizens,” Ellis said, brandishing a copy of Friday’s paper during a news conference on the porch of City Hall. “We should be afraid of people who say things like this.”
He described the column, headlined “Scaring all the white voters,” as an attempt to suppress black voters and make whites turn out for Reichert. Ellis said no one had reason to fear him, and that as mayor he did all he could to bridge racial divisions.
“Many white voters supported me,” Ellis said. “This is an insult to them.”
Reichert did not respond to several calls seeking comment Monday.
Telegraph Publisher Don Bailey said Monday that Erickson is a longtime contributor to The Telegraph’s opinion page and that page’s purpose is to encourage community conversation. Contributors’ statements aren’t necessarily the opinions of the paper’s editorial board, Bailey said.
Telegraph Opinion Page Editor Charles Richardson said candidates can’t contribute opinion pieces after they’ve qualified for office, but Ellis supporters would be welcome to write a response to Erickson’s piece.
Ellis, Macon’s first black mayor, and Reichert, who is white, are locked in a runoff election fight to become the first mayor of the unified Macon-Bibb County government.
That election will be held Oct. 15. Reichert out-polled Ellis on Sept. 17 by nearly 7,000 votes,
Erickson’s column, which focused on predicting the outcome of the runoff elections for countywide mayor and four commission seats, said a continuing racial divide does exist in Macon-Bibb County, and that respective turnouts for Ellis, Reichert and Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart -- the third-place finisher -- reflected that.
Erickson said Monday that it’s a “statement of fact” white voters in Macon-Bibb County are more scared of an Ellis administration than black voters are of a Reichert one, but that Hart’s campaign showed it doesn’t have to be that way. Hart is black.
Ellis could have run a better campaign by acknowledging that instead of “trying to play victim,” Erickson said.
“But I do commend his effort to find controversy to keep himself in the media for the next couple weeks,” Erickson said.
Erickson, a Fox News contributor and Atlanta radio talk show host, was a Macon councilman from 2007 to 2011, when he resigned to move closer to his Atlanta studio.
He said Monday that he’s previously supported Reichert. Erickson hasn’t made a statement about who he will support in the runoff, but probably will in his upcoming Friday column, he said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.