The Liberty and Long county sheriffs enjoyed strong support as results were coming in Tuesday evening, but several Long County incumbents were ousted, according to unofficial vote totals.
In Liberty County, Sheriff Steve Sikes (D) easily accumulated the most votes, 2,498 (50.9 percent) with 13 of 13 precincts reporting. Second-place challenger Will Bowman picked up 1,761 votes (35.9 percent).
If this result holds, Sikes would win the five-way Democratic race outright without needing to advance to a runoff. However, the numbers are close enough that enough outstanding provisional or absentee ballots could change it back to requiring a runoff between Sikes and Bowman.
The other three candidates, Lamar Cook, Rondy Bacon and Elton Dudley, each received less than 10 percent of the voter.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Robert Brooks in November.
In the other Liberty County contested race, Chief Magistrate Melinda Anderson (D) easily turned back a challenge by Kenneth Wells. Anderson had 3,841 votes (86 percent) to Wells’ 624 (14 percent), according to unofficial results. With no Republicans running, that means Anderson wins another term.
The Liberty County School System’s Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was easily renewed, as 3,557 (67.9 percent) voted yes, while 1,682 (32.1 percent) voted no. The 1 percent sales tax funds technology and capital improvements in the school district.
In Long County, with 7 of 7 precincts reporting (except provisional ballots), unofficial totals show Sheriff Craig Nobles (D) winning with 1,438 votes votes (77.7 percent), compared to 412 (22.3 percent) for challenger Shane Middleton. The winner will face Republican Timothy Works in November.
Several Long County incumbents were ousted, according to unofficial results.
On the Board of Commissioners, District 1 challenger David Richardson (D) had 191 votes (54.7 percent) to incumbent Gerald Blocker’s 158 votes (45.3 percent). That means Richardson will face Republican Brian Bray in November.
District 2 had a tight three-way Democratic race. Incumbent Robert Long had 130 votes (34.1 percent), while Charles Brady had 126 (33.1 percent) and Wallace Shaw drew 125 (32.8 percent). This race almost certainly will go to a runoff, but it was too close to call Tuesday night as to who would advance.
The winner of this primary will face Republican Mike Riddle in November.
District 3 is also too close to call, with incumbent Willie Thompson clinging to a slim three-vote lead over challenger Walt Pelton, 102 to 99, or 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent. The winner will effectively win the seat, as there are no Republican candidates.
District 5 saw a tight Democratic race also, but it appeared that challenger Bobby Walker eked out a victory over incumbent Dwight Gordon by 15 votes, 312 to 297, or 51.3 percent to 48.8 percent. If that holds with provisional and absentee ballots, Walker will face Republican Randall Klingensmith in November.
Three candidates are running for the nonpartisan Long County probate judge seat, which appears headed to a runoff featuring Bobby Smith, who got 905 votes (43 percent) and Teresa Odum, who had 630 votes (29.9 percent). Rita Deen was in third place with 571 votes (27.1 percent).
Three Board of Education seats were also contested. These are nonpartisan races with two candidates each, so the primary effectively decides the winners.
District 2 incumbent Carolyn Williamson held onto her seat, fending off a challenge from Arthur Davis. Williamson received 292 votes (66.4 percent) to 148, or 33.6 percent, for Davis, according to unofficial totals.
Former board member Linda Sasser DeLoach easily reclaimed the District 4 seat, collecting 182 votes (60.3 percent) to incumbent Janet M. Watford’s 120 (39.7 percent).
District 5 incumbent Julie Norman Dawson won another term with 384 votes (55.8 percent) to 304 (44.2 percent) for challenger David “Bubba” Howard.