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Lincoln County voters split — Hometown candidate gets 55 percent of local votes, outsiders gather up 43 percent

She carried the county, but not by much.

Although Brookhaven’s Sally Doty took the majority of votes from Lincoln County in Tuesday’s Republican primary election for the 3rd Congressional District, a closer look at vote totals from the 30 precincts shows a fractured voting populace and a less-than-solid homebase for the state senator. While no other candidate individually came close to her 2,000 votes, the three candidates who finished ahead of her combined to take away nearly half her hometown’s votes.

“With such a low turnout, it’s hard to really read the tea leaves,” Doty said. “Once you serve in office, and make tough choices and votes, you always have those who may not agree with you.”

Doty collected 1,944 total ballots, good for 55 percent of Lincoln County, but the race’s top three finishers — Madison and Rankin counties district attorney Michael Guest, former healthcare executive Whit Hughes and Wall Street investor Perry Parker — combined to take away 1,508 votes for 43 percent of the county. A total of 3,517 Lincoln Countians voted in the Republican primary.

Doty won 62 percent of her home box, Halbert Heights, drawing 286 of the 459 votes cast. Guest was the biggest contender there, getting 83 votes, while he, Hughes and Parker took away 169 votes, or 37 percent.

Voters at the Old Brook polling place gave Doty 187 of their 310 total votes, good for 60 percent. Hughes was the biggest contender against her at that box, prying away 52 votes, while the top three finishers in the race drew off 119 votes, or 38 percent.

New Sight’s voters gave Doty 135 votes, good for 56 percent of the box’s 240 votes. Guest came in second with 49 votes, and the big three scored 103 together, for 43 percent of the precinct’s total.

At Enterprise, Doty grabbed 124 of the 213 votes cast for 58 percent. Guest finished in the second spot with 52 votes, and the top three scored 84 total, or 39 percent.

Doty finished below the halfway mark at Loyd Star, getting 91 of the box’s 190 total votes for 48 percent. Guest took 63, and the top three finishers together outscored Doty by seven ballots with 98 votes, almost 52 percent of the box.

It was the same at Heucks Retreat, where Doty’s 69 votes were 49 percent of the 141 ballots cast. Parker scored only 30 votes here, but the big three together outpaced the hometown candidate by two, getting 71 votes for 50 percent.

One of the worst showings for Doty came from the Johnson precinct, where her 37 ballots accounted for only 35 percent of the total. Guest grabbed 25, and the big three almost doubled up on Doty, bringing down 68 votes, or 64 percent.

It could have been, as Doty said, the very crowded field. Or the 21 percent voter turnout — only 4,389 of Lincoln County’s 20,514 registered voters showed up at their precincts Tuesday.

And it could have been the cash — Doty’s last reported total for campaign contributions was $110,761. Hughes raised more than $430,000, Guest had more than $396,000 and Parker had around $390,000. They were able to buy presence out of Doty’s price range.

“The money the Madison and Rankin candidates were able to pour into the race made them more visible,” she said.