Conventional wisdom said there would be a runoff in the crowded race to be the Republican candidate for Bryan County Sheriff.
Conventional wisdom was wrong.
Mark Crowe unofficially advanced Tuesday to face Democrat Al Hagan in the November election, after the former Pembroke Police Chief and Bryan County Sheriff’s Office deputy outdistanced his closest competitor, Mike Maxwell, by a 3,339 to 1,102 margin in the Republican Primary.
Crowe said Wednesday that he, too, expected a runoff. He thanked God and voters.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” he said. “I was just praying for 50 percent plus 1. It’s a God thing, nothing short of a miracle from God that I got 55 percent. I appreciate all the voters of Bryan County that turned out and voted for me.”
Crowe got more votes than the rest of the Republican candidates combined in the only contested county race. He needed to receive more than 50 percent of the vote to become the Republican candidate for sheriff in the general election and got 55 percent.
Mike Fordham finished third in the balloting with 696 votes while Keith Welch had 484 votes and Doug Sahlberg had 467, according to unofficial results provided by Bryan County Elections Supervisor Cindy Reynolds.
Hagan, a retired GBI agent who now owns a polygraph company, ran uncontested in the Democratic primary, where he received 2,386 votes.
Both Hagan and Crowe are from Pembroke and are seeking to replace longtime sheriff Clyde Smith, who is retiring.
The results compiled late Tuesday night include in-person and absentee ballots, but do not include provisional ballots and are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State’s office, according to Reynolds. While there were reports of long line lines and other issues that led some counties to keep polls open later and brought charges from some groups that the state mismanaged the vote - and counter charges from state election officials that the problems were at the county level - the polls in Bryan County closed promptly on time at 7 p.m.
Reynolds said the primary here ran smoothly, thanks to her staff and volunteers at the polls.
“Turn out was steady today,” she said in an email late Wednesday night. “We didn’t have any issues. The poll managers, poll workers and staff did an amazing job today and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Contested races While the Republican Sheriff’s Primary was the only contested local race in Bryan County, there were a handful of state and national elections that gave local voters a choice.
Among the more closely watched races, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, easily outpolled challengers Danny Merritt and Ken Yasger in the Republican Primary, getting 4,954 of the 6,040 votes cast.
It’s unclear who Carter will face in November on the Democratic side. Joyce Marie Griggs held a narrow lead over Lisa Ring as of Wednesday afternoon, with elections officials still counting absentee ballots in some counties.
At the state level, State House District 164 Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Garden City, will face Democrat Marcus Thompson or Jeffrey Rayno. Results were not complete at press time.
The winner will represent much of South Bryan.
A number of incumbents ran unopposed in local races and will return to office in November.
Among them: Probate Judge Billy Reynolds, Clerk of Court Becky Crowe, Tax Commissioner Carroll Ann Coleman, Coroner Bill Cox, Solicitor Don Montgomery Jr., County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger and District 1 Commissioner Noah Covington.
Richmond Hill businessman Dallas Daniel ran unopposed as a Republican for the County Commission District 3 seat being vacated by Steve Myers.
On the school board, incumbent Karen Krupp ran unopposed in the Republican primary, as did District 2 incumbent Dennis Seger, also a Republican and Derrick Smith of District 3.
The general election is set for Nov. 3.