TUPELO • With affidavits ballots counted in the early morning hours Wednesday, incumbent District 1 Supervisor Phil Morgan held onto a narrow but outright victory in Tuesday primaries amid a four-man field.
After all District 1 ballots were counted and tallied but not yet certified, the fifth-term Morgan had a lead of 50.22 percent in the Republican primary. Home builder Dan Gale was in second with slightly more than 33 percent of the vote.
Challengers Marty Rock and John Hoyt Sheffield finished much further behind at about 8 percent each.
In total votes, Morgan had a lead of about 550 ballots, but to avoid a runoff in three weeks, Morgan needed more than 50 percent of all ballots, not just a first place finish.
With all ballots counted, Morgan received 1,622 votes, while Gale had 1,068 votes.
Among ballots cast for supervisor, Morgan needed more than 1,615 votes to cross the 50 percent threshold, a feat he accomplished by the barest margin – seven votes.
On Wednesday, Gale told the Daily Journal he is “disheartened” by the results but doesn’t currently have plans to request a recount in the election.
“I’m just going to go ahead and concede and move on,” Gale said.
Gale thanked his supporters and pledged to run again next election cycle.
“I just want to thank everyone who did support me. This is my first time out. I feel I did good. I’m running against a 20 year incumbent,” Gale said. “I learned a lot, made a lot of good friends, and I’ll be back in four years.”
Walking out of the Lee County Justice Center with family members early morning Wednesday, Morgan counted his victory as one that came despite concerted opposition.
“You can have countywide election officials opposing you, but when you’ve got God on your side, you can’t lose,” Morgan said. “I work for the people of the 1st District and the people of the 1st District spoke. I’m grateful to them. I’ll continue to do the work I have done to improve the quality of life of the 1st District.”
Morgan faces no opponents in the November general election.
The race teetered on the edge of a runoff late Tuesday with election-day and absentee ballots counted. Bleary-eyed election officials then trudged on, counting affidavit ballots in Lee County’s supervisor District 1 race. They left affidavits in other races to be counted until later.
Affidavit ballots are cast when a someone wants to vote at a precinct but is not on the voter rolls at that precinct. If the voter was properly registered and entitled to vote at the precinct, the affidavit ballot will be counted and added to the vote totals.
A three-person committee from the Lee County Republican Party executive committee determined Wednesday morning which affidavits to count and which to reject in Supervisor District 1.
Executive committee members were assisted by circuit clerk staff, who advised about the registration status of individuals casting affidavit ballots.
Circuit Clerk Camille Roberts Dulaney said she expects other affidavits to be counted by the end of the week and the election results to be certified and made complete by next Monday.