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D-5 supervisor candidate field still unsettled

The District Five supervisor’s race merry-go-round is stillspinning. Who’s riding and who’s not remains a littleunclear.

Even though the deadline for qualifying for elected office passedlast Tuesday at 5 p.m., last-minute decisions and next-minutereversals have caused the list of Republican candidates running forLincoln County supervisor in District Five to remain incomplete,with one candidate announcing and then recanting his withdrawalfrom the race and another, though certified and ready to run,planning to quit.

“As far as we’re concerned, all three Republicans are still inthere,” said Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins. “I’venever had this happen before.”

Zetus resident Gary Covington tried to withdraw from the race theday after qualifying ended, saying he did not want to draw votesaway from his brother-in-law, Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing,a Democrat seeking another term.

But candidates must submit a written withdrawal to their party todrop from the race, and Covington’s phone call to the circuitclerk’s office was insufficient. After a few days of reflection,he’s decided to stay in the race.

“Due to the overwhelming support from family and friends andconcerned voters of District Five, I am a candidate for supervisorfor District Five,” Covington said. “I feel I am the best qualifiedfor this job and would appreciate everyone’s prayers andsupport.”

Covington, Michael Assink and Carroll B. Smith have qualified asRepublicans in the District Five supervisor race. Democraticincumbent Gary Walker is being challenged by Dudley Nations andBenjie J. Smith for that party’s nomination.

Covington said he thought a withdrawal from the race would havebeen best for his family. But after considering his options more,he decided his Republican candidacy wouldn’t hurt Rushing afterall.

“People are going to vote on what’s most important in their eyes,”he said. “With the governorship and Cindy Hyde-Smith running (forCommissioner of Agriculture and Commerce), people are going to voteRepublican or Democrat. I don’t see where (my running) is going totake any votes from Steve or hamper him in any way.”

Covington’s commitment means all three Republican candidates forsupervisor in District Five are still in the race – at least fornow.

“I’m going to pull out of the race,” Assink said Friday. “I’m goingto be teaching, so my wife and I decided we just need to pick onething and stick with it.”

Assink said his only reason for running in District Five was tochallenge Walker and challenge the “Democratic machine.” He said hewas going to focus on his career and allow Covington and Smith astronger Republican front.

“We don’t need 20 people in the Republican primary, we just needone good guy to do it,” Assink said.

But Assink has yet to submit a withdrawal letter to the party. Sofar, the only concrete truth for Republicans in the District Fiverace is Smith.

“I have no intentions of pulling out,” Smith said. “I went down andqualified and that’s the reason I went.”

Lincoln County Republican Party Executive Committee Chairman JohnRoberts said the candidates must decide for themselves.

“The more in my Republican Party, the happier I am,” he said. “Theymake their own decisions and I try to support them.”