SMYRNA, Ga. – Sandra Bullock sailed through a Georgia House Democratic primary by doing almost nothing – literally. Then, a week later, bowed out.
No, it’s not “America’s Sweetheart” Sandra Bullock, who starred in “The Blind Side” and “Miss Congeniality.” It’s a retired Georgia Tech database administrator Sandra Bullock, who lives in Smyrna, Ga.
Bullock, who would not respond to Fox News’ inquiries, didn’t knock on doors, hand out campaign signs or set up social media accounts pushing for her win.
“I thought, let’s see what my silly name will do, and I won!” Bullock told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Apparently, name recognition and voting for Democratic women counts for a lot.”
In Georgia, sharing a name with someone famous seems to carry weight – even for candidates with no political experience and who make little effort to win their race. On the same day Bullock won, Viola Davis unseated State Rep. Earnest “Coach” Williams for the Democratic primary in District 87. Williams had served on the state House since 2003.
Davis, a veteran, registered nurse and long-time community activist, told Fox News she appreciates sharing the name of a well-liked celebrity and Oscar winner and admits it probably helped her earn some votes. But, unlike Bullock, Davis actually made an effort to win.
Davis said she knocked on nearly 4,500 doors in the neighborhood. She is running unopposed in the general election.
“Believe me when I say, it was hard work,” Davis said. “My body is feeling it right now.”
On Wednesday, Bullock abruptly pulled out of the race, citing health reasons. But before she quit, her opponent, Erick Allen, a talent management consultant, said he was taken aback that someone who did not bother campaigning won the primary.
"We have to have a serious discussion about voter education and engagement. The fact that ‘Sandra Bullock’ won and a long term incumbent lost to ‘Viola Davis’ speaks loudly."
“I was not planning to lose to a ghost candidate,” he said.
Bullock captured 58 percent of the vote, according to the office of Georgia’s Secretary of State.
“I find it very hard to believe [the votes were casted] off of an informed decision,” Allen said.
In a Facebook post the day after the primary, Allen wrote: “We have to have a serious discussion about voter education and engagement. The fact that ‘Sandra Bullock’ won and a long-term incumbent lost to ‘Viola Davis’ speaks loudly.”
Audrey Haynes, an associate professor of political science at the University of Georgia, told Fox News when voters can’t use partisanship to make a decision, and voters have less information on races as they move down the ballot, name recognition sways voters because “familiarity is linked with safety and security.”
After much shock and time in what he called “The Twilight Zone,” Allen will be the one to move forward as the Democratic nominee in District 40’s House race after Bullock dropped out.
Cobb County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Owens said Bullock is battling newly developed health issues, which would be hard to maintain while campaigning through November.
Owens told Fox News Bullock’s run was never a joke – she was responding to her party’s call for more women to run and felt inspired to bring change to her community.