Tuesday’s primary election saw a few close races and a few decisive victories, but mostly it showed that voters are ready for a change.
Many of the most heated races in Escambia County — the ones with candidates’ signs on every street corner — ended with the incumbents’ defeat. Clerk of Court Ernie Lee Magaha, famously in office since 1956, lost out to Pam Childers by a large margin (69% to 31%). Councilman Sam Hall was defeated by Charles Bare by a two-to-one ratio (58% to 29%, with Victor Cross picking up 13%). Public Defender James Owens, whose office has seemed riddled with scandals, was beaten by Bruce Miller in all four counties of the First Judicial Circuit: 60% to 40% in Escambia, 55% to 45% in Santa Rosa, 57% to 43% in Okaloosa, and 62% to 38% in Walton. Ouch.
There were exceptions, of course. Sheriff David Morgan handily defeated challenger John Powell. ECUA incumbents Larry Walker and Elvin McCorvey each won their respective races, although McCorvey didn’t quite break the 50% mark and will face Calvin Avant in a runoff. County Commissioner Wilson Robertson, despite criticism over his involvement in the hiring of Forrest Gibbs for a county job, appears to have eked out a victory over Jesse Casey. (Though with only a 30-vote lead in the unofficial results, there could be a reversal once the absentee ballots are tallied and a recount takes place.)
In the Escambia races with no incumbents, Lumon May won the County Commission District 3 race, while Steven Barry won a plurality in the crowded County Commission District 1 race. Vicki Campbell beat Logan Fink and will face incumbent Elizabeth Campbell and two other NPA candidates for the ECUA District 1 seat. Jewel Cannada-Wynn will return to the Pensacola City Council in the District 7 seat being vacated by Ronald Townsend. Between her and Bare, we can expect a very different dynamic between the council and the mayor’s office after November.
Here are links to results by county:
Perhaps the most surprising thing was how many races were not decided by who raised the most money, usually a powerful factor in determining the winner of any election. According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Owens raised more than Miller, Magaha more than Childers, Hall more than Bare, Archer way more than Barry — yet it didn’t win them more votes in the end.
Congratulations to all the winners, but let’s remember that it takes a lot of time, money and endurance to run for office. These candidates have all prostrated themselves before donors, subjected themselves to public scrutiny, and suffered the slings and arrows of campaigning, all for a chance to serve the public. (Granted, some offices pay better than others.) Win or lose, anyone who willingly takes part in this process deserves to be commended — or committed. I’m not sure which.