Ross, Harper facing off for GOP 3rd District nod

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lincoln County Republican Party officials are trained, equippedand prepared to man the county’s 32 precincts for Tuesday’s ThirdCongressional District Republican runoff between Charlie Ross andGregg Harper.

“All the preparation is exactly the same,” said Lincoln CountyRepublican Party Assistant Chairman Stan Winborne. “We’ve taken ourbox managers and support staff in, and if anyone has needed anyadditional training, we have retrained them and made sure everyoneis comfortable on the voting machines.”

Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

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The contest between Ross, a former state senator, and Harper,former GOP chairman from Rankin county, will be the only race onTuesday’s ballot. Tuesday’s winner will go on to face Democrat JoelGill in the November general election for the right to succeedcurrent U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, who opted on to seek re-electionthis year.

Tuesday’s contest is only for either Republicans who voted theirparty ticket in the March 11 primary or those did not vote at all.Voters who filled out a Democratic ballot in the first primary willnot be allowed to vote in the Republican runoff.

Subsequently, Winborne’s party will the only one handling thepolls and vote-counting Tuesday. He said the added weight in theabsence of a second party to manage the election was the reason forthe retraining – just to make sure everyone was up to speed.

“Anytime there’s just one party, without the support of a secondmanager, you just need to make sure you’re ready to go and everyonefeels comfortable,” Winborne said.

The county GOP will have some unlikely assistance managing thepolls Tuesday, as a handful of Democratic Party poll managers havesigned on to help.

“It has nothing to do with politics – a poll worker is a pollworker,” Winborne said. “You’re really not chosen to be a boxworker or poll worker for your party affiliation. We look forability – things we can count on like integrity and honesty. Partydoesn’t matter to me, as long as we can get a good job done at thepolls and get all the votes counted.”

One of the few differences between the runoff and the primaryelection, beside the fact that the ballot is for only one party, isthat few absentee and affidavit votes will be submitted. There willalso be fewer voting machines at the polling places.

Even though Democratic voters showed up in almost a 2-1 majorityover Republican voters in the March 11 primary, Winborne is hopingfor a good turnout at the polls Tuesday.

“The two candidates on the ballot are doing everything they canto raise interest in this election, both on television and inprint,” he said of Ross and Harper. “And also by visiting our area.Both of them have been here, and they are not overlooking this areaof the district.”

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins is not so sure.She said runoffs normally produce a lower turnout.

“We didn’t have a very good turnout three weeks ago, so we’llhave even fewer to vote this time,” Watkins said. “People justdon’t seem to come back out for a runoff, especially if the personthey were voting for didn’t make the runoff.”