Lincoln County voters go for Romney

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rick Santorum took headlines as the winner of Mississippi’s Republican presidential primary, but a majority of Lincoln County voters supported Mitt Romney.

     Statewide, Santorum took 33 percent of votes, followed by Newt Gingrich with 31 percent and Romney at 30 percent, but Lincoln’s vote totals reversed this order.

     Romney earned 35 percent of Republican votes, Gingrich 31 percent and Santorum 29 percent out of 3,847 votes in the Republican presidential primary.

     Lincoln County GOP chairman John Roberts attributed Romney’s strength in Lincoln County to Garrett Jackson. Jackson, a Brookhaven native, works as a personal aide to Romney.

     “He’s a hometown boy,” Roberts said. “Brookhaven sticks together.”

     However, Romney’s Lincoln County win followed statewide voting patterns in which Romney showed strength in the western part of the state. The Mississippi counties he carried included Yazoo, Hinds, Madison, Rankin, Copiah, Lincoln, Pike, Amite and Adams counties.

     Roberts had been cautiously optimistic Romney might win in Mississippi, propelled by a number of endorsement by statewide officials including Gov. Phil Bryant. But Tuesday night, Roberts offered the possibility some of those endorsements came too late to have much influence.

     Altogether, including traditional voting, absentee voting and approved affidavit ballots, 4,699 ballots were cast, 19.39 percent of the county’s 24,231 registered voters.

     That fell in line with predictions election leaders offered prior to Tuesday’s vote.

     Republican turnout was far higher than Democratic turnout, also as expected. In the presidential primary, 3,847 Republican ballots were cast whereas 806 ballots were cast in the uncontested Democratic presidential primary.

     Roberts said he was pleased to see much more enthusiasm and excitement on the Republican side and expects that to continue leading into the fall.

     However, Helen Funk, Lincoln County’s Democratic Party chairwoman, pointed out that Tuesday’s turnout was about 2,600 less than the approximately 7,340 Lincoln County votes cast in 2008’s presidential primaries. In that election year, the contested primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was deemed the major draw, Funk said.

     In Congressional and Senate races, incumbents dominated in Lincoln County as they did elsewhere in the state. Gregg Harper, seeking his third term in the U.S. Congressional 3rd District carried 93.5 percent of Lincoln County Republican votes and Republican incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker received 93.9 percent of votes. District-wide, Harper took 92 percent of votes and statewide Wicker earned 89 percent of votes.

     Harper will face Democrat Crystal Biggs in November, who ran uncontested.

     The only contested Democratic race was that for Senate. In Lincoln County, Albert N. Gore Jr. took 55 percent of the votes, followed by Roger Weiner at 25 percent and Will Oatis at 18 percent. Statewide, Gore received 56 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff and sending Gore to the November ballot to face Wicker.

     Election night counting in Lincoln County went far smoother than elections held last year, but small troubles kept election leaders up until almost midnight.

     Among the problems, poll workers did not properly close almost 15 precincts. An election worker at the Government Complex had to do so.

      Also, two memory cards failed to upload their data, one from the Zetus precinct and one from the Forestry precinct. The data for those cards had to be pulled from the voting machine’s memory.