Long-time incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran did better here, the home county of his wife, the former Rose Clayton, than statewide but it was apparently not enough for a victory.
Only a couple of thousand votes separated Cochran from Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel and, while absentee and affidavit ballots were still being counted Wednesday, it looked like the two will face each other in a run-off June 24.
Figures early Wednesday had Cochran with about 49 percent of the vote statewide in the Republican primary while McDaniel had about 50 percent, rounded off. The third candidate on the list, Thomas Carey, had about two percent. In order to avoid a runoff, a candidate would have to have received 50 percent of the vote plus one vote.
In Union County, Cochran received 56.37 percent of the vote to McDaniel’s 42.37, winning several precincts close to town but with mixed results out in the county. Unofficially, voter turnout was light with only about 18 percent of the registered voters participating.
Also on the Republican ballot was the race for the U. S. House of Representatives, First Congressional District, but incumbent Alan Nunnelee was unopposed in that party primary.
Nunnelee will go against the winner of the Democratic primary in November and that appears to be Ron Dickey, who got almost exactly two-thirds of the vote statewide and in Union County as well. His opponent, Rex Weathers, received 34 percent.
In the other Democratic race, Travis Childers won the House nomination decisively with 74 percent of the vote compared to 12 percent for Bill Marcy, 10 percent for William Compton and four percent of Jonathan Rawl statewide.
In Union County, Childers fared even better, getting nearly 94 percent of the vote.
Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford said people are already asking her about absentee ballots for the June 24 run-off, but they can’t be cast until all the results of Tuesday’s vote are certified. That won’t be until at least next Tuesday because, under the new law requiring voter IDs, people who cast affidavit ballots because they did not have IDs with them have seven days to furnish proof of identification.
Stanford also said that there probably will not be time to print new absentee ballots so they may have to use the paper ballots from Tuesday. That will not interfere with the use of voting machines June 24, however.
Stanford will let the public know as soon as absentee ballots are available for use.
This was the first election requiring voters to present a photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot, but no problems were reported and only a handful did not bring an ID with them.
As a side note, election commissioner Mike Beam said he had received comments from citizens asking why alcoholic beverages were being sold on election day. Beam said he checked and, folklore notwithstanding, there appears to be no law prohibiting the sale of liquor on an election day. Sale of beer and light wine theoretically could be curtailed by city ordinance but it would take Alcoholic Beverage Commission changes in state law to prohibit liquor and wine sales.
State law does state that a person found to be intoxicated in or around a polling place can be fined from $10 to $100 and spend up to 10 days in jail, however.