Johnson City Press Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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News Local News Washington County Election 2014

UPDATE: Graybeal responds to Ford's talk of recount, Ford comments publicly

May 7th, 2014 4:47 pm by Becky Campbell

UPDATE: Graybeal responds to Ford's talk of recount, Ford comments publicly

Jonesborough’s Operations Manager Craig Ford, who challenged Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal in Tuesday’s Republian primary and lost by a thin margin, issued a news release Wednesday morning to congratulate his opponent on the win, but said he’s exploring a recount.

“Given that the vote spread is only .001 percent, I will be exploring that possibility with the Washington County Election Commission today,” Ford said in the prepared statement.

In a phone interview later Wednesday, Ford said his supporters encouraged him to explore a recount.

“It’s just like the encouragement I received to run. I’ve received the encouragement all day long to seek the recount. There was a 13 vote difference with almost 13,000 votes cast. I think it would be prudent to look at doing that. I have not said at this point we are going to do that,” he said.

“Certainly if the vote counts stands as it is, I certainly want to congratulate Sheriff Graybeal,” he said.

A state official in the Division of Elections said it’s up to the Tennessee Republican party to approve a recount in a primary election.

Graybeal won the primary by 13 votes. The race was close all night Tuesday as votes from polling precincts were counted and posted on the Election Commission’s website.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Graybeal said he is confident of his win.

“I do not feel like there are any grounds for the election to be contested. I have confidence in the Washington County Election Commission and the results that have been reported,” Graybeal said.

After the unofficial final tally was posted to reflect Graybeal’s win Tuesday night, Ford could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts to contact him. He returned those unanswered calls around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Ford said he spoke with an election commissioner and learned it takes seven to 10 days for the election to be certified and then he has five days to contest the results.

He said that gives him time to weigh his options about a potential challenge.

According to Tennessee Division of Elections spokesman Blake Fontenay, the state Republican party committee would be the deciding body on a vote challenge.

“That challenge is heard by the Tennessee Republican party’s executive committee. The party would then determine after hearing the facts of the challenge or allegations contained within the challenge whether or not to uphold the results of the election, to declare the candidate making the protest the winner or the third option would be to order a recount,” Fontenay said. “It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.”

Ford said he’s been asked if he’s disappointed by the election defeat and said “you never enter a race to lose. There is some disappointment there. On the same token I feel very good on running a county-wide race and getting half the county.”

Follow Becky Campbell on Twitter @CampbellinCourt. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BeckyCampbellJCPress.

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Reported earlier:

Jonesborough’s Operations Manager Craig Ford, who challenged Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal in Tuesday’s Republian primary and lost by a thin margin, issued a press release Wednesday morning to congratulate his opponent on the win, but said he’s exploring a recount.

“Given that the vote spread is only .001 percent, I will be exploring that possibility with the Washington County Election Commission today,” Ford said in the prepared statement.

But according to state officials, it’s up to the Tennessee Republican party to approve a recount in a primary election.

Graybeal won the primary by 13 votes. The race was close all night Tuesday as votes from polling precincts were counted and posted on the Election Commission’s website.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Graybeal said he is confident of his win.

“I do not feel like there are any grounds for the election to be contested. I have confidence in the Washington County Election Commission and the results that have been reported,” Graybeal said.

After the unofficial final tally was posted to reflect Graybeal’s win Tuesday night, Ford could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts to contact him. He also did not answer repeated calls made to his home, work and cell phone Wednesday.

His campaign manager, Susan Miller, said Wednesday morning that Ford was not available.

In his statement, Ford said, “If the vote is correct as it stands, I want to congratulate Sheriff Graybeal; however with a margin of 13 votes out of 12,741 votes cast, I owe it to my supporters to respectfully request a recount.”

Miller said she will release additional information as the campaign finds out what options Ford has in requesting a recount.

By mid-afternoon Wednesday, however, no one had contacted the Election Commission to inquire about recounting votes in the sheriff’s race, according to Maybell Stewart, administrator of elections for the county.

““He has not contacted this office in regards to an election contest. We will go ahead and finish out our paperwork, everything we normally do after an election,” Stewart said. “After it is certified, if he decides he wants to contest the election, then he has five days after we certify the results.”

The election certification takes about a week to complete.

Tennessee Division of Elections spokesman Blake Fontenay confirmed that once the local election commission certifies the results, a candidate has five days to challenge the election.

“That challenge is heard by the Tennessee Republican party’s executive committee. The party would then determine after hearing the facts of the challenge or allegations contained within the challenge whether or not to uphold the results of the election, to declare the candidate making the protest the winner or the third option would be to order a recount,” Fontenay said. “It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.”

Follow Becky Campbell on Twitter @CampbellinCourt.

Like her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BeckyCampbellJCPress.

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