Johnson City Press Thursday, July 31, 2014

Election 2014

UPDATE: Ford told supporters about concession before going public

May 27th, 2014 2:52 pm by Gary B. Gray

UPDATE: Ford told supporters about concession before going public

Craig Ford, left, and Ed Graybeal, right

Craig Ford, who considered contesting the May 6 Republican primary results in which incumbent Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal was re-elected by 12 votes, conceded the election Tuesday but said he will consider running for the spot again in 2018.

Ford, town of Jonesborough operations manager, said he delayed a public announcement in order to first personally inform his closest friends and supporters, as well as Graybeal.

“I had a core group of 40 to 50 people, and they really worked their butts off for me, and I wanted this core group to hear it from me and not read it in the Johnson City Press or see it on television first,” Ford said. “I know the media wants to get information, but I also wanted to talk personally with Sheriff Graybeal first. First thing this morning, I went to Mr. Browning (Town Administrator Bob Browning) about this.”

Ford was asked the obvious: Will you run again in 2018?

“Not to dance around the question, but the Lord doesn’t promise us our next breath,” he answered. “Four years is a long way down the road, but I would consider it.”

Graybeal said he appreciated getting the call from Ford and hoped a clearing of the air would unite Washington Countians.

“He and I had a really good conversation,” Graybeal said. “We probably talked for 30 to 35 minutes. He told me he did not plan to challenge the race. It was the first time we’ve talked one to another since the campaign started.”

From a total of 12,742 votes cast in the sheriff’s race, Graybeal received 6,377 votes to Ford’s 6,365. That’s 50.04 percent to 49.95 percent, respectively.

The Washington County Election Commission certified election results last week, finding one provisional vote for Ford, which narrowed the gap from 13 to 12, but the challenger apparently had made up his mind before that minimal gain.

“I met a couple of times with election officials, and I had a couple of questions I wanted to get cleared up in my own mind,” he said. “I’m still getting calls on a daily basis with people saying, ‘Hey, you need to do a recount.’ ”

Because this was a primary election, Ford would have had the option of contesting the race through the state’s Republican Party headquarters in Nashville. If, on the other hand, he had challenged the results during a general election, he could have asked the Washington County Election Commission to conduct a recount.

“I’m assuming it would be a little more costly to run as a write-in during the county general election,” he said. “It’s hard work. I think if you look at the results, we did pretty good in the county. I think Sheriff Graybeal carried a lot of precincts within Johnson City.”

Ford also admitted he may not have made himself as available as the Press and other media would have liked during the campaign, including the days following the election, when his intentions regarding a challenge remained unknown.

But he has now said on several occasions, including last week when the Press tried to reach him for comment after the election was certified, that his job held a much higher priority over taking media calls.

“I tried very, very hard not to do any campaigning while I was working for the town,” he said. “I don’t think dropping what I’m doing to campaign was the right thing to do.”

Ford said Graybeal had “the ability to campaign 24-7.” He also was a bit disappointed by the Press’ decision to endorse the incumbent following the April 1, Press-sponsored Community Editorial Board meeting at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough.

“There was no question in my mind when I walked out of that forum — I had soundly defeated Sheriff Ed Graybeal.”

Like Gary B. Gray on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Gary-B-Gray. Follow him on Twitter @ggrayjcpress.

REPORTED EARLIER:

Craig Ford, who had considered contesting the May 6 Republican primary result in which incumbent Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal was re-elected by 12 votes, conceded the election Tuesday but said he will consider running for the spot again in 2018.

Ford, Town of Jonesborough operations manager, said he delayed announcing his decision in order to personally inform his closest friends and supporters, as well as Graybeal.

When the Washington County Election Commission had certified the May 6 election results last week, the Press sought Ford out at this office. An executive secretary called Ford and relayed a message that Ford preferred not to discuss the issue while he was doing the Town of Jonesborough’s business.

“I tried very, very hard not to do any campaigning while I was working for the town,” he said. “I don’t think dropping what I’m doing to campaign was the right thing to do.”

Ford was asked the obvious: Will you run again in 2018?

“Not to dance around the question, but the Lord doesn’t promise us our next breath,” he answered. “Four years is a long way down the road, but I would consider it.”

From a total of 12,742 votes cast in the race for sheriff, Graybeal received 6,377, while Ford garnered 6,365. That’s 50.04 percent to 49.95 percent.

Keep checking JohnsonCityPress.com for more on this developing story.

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