|Election: Turnout small, Winkles emerges|
LAWRENCEVILLE - With much of Lawrence County shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the primary election went on as scheduled in Lawrence County on March 17, with a small turnout.
Cheryl Winkles proved to be the night's big winner, as she emerged from a field of four to claim the Republican spot on the ballot this fall, in an effort to become Lawrence Circuit Court Clark.
Already an employee in the circuit clerk's office, Winkles garnered 522 votes - 28.82 percent - which was good enough to top a tight race. Kelly Wolfe (486 votes), Nikki Hobbs (474) and Jennifer Adams (329) were the others on the ballot.
Winkles will now face Democrat Tonya M. Cox in the fall. Running unopposed, Cox received 638 votes.
In all, 2,618 of the county's 8,912 registered voters turned out, which amounts to 28.23 percent. Of those, 1,879 asked for Republican ballots and 739 registered as Democrats.
Lawrence County Clerk Will Gibson, whose office was in charge of the proceedings, said the turnout was similar to the last primary election in 2016.
Gibson noted that there were minor problems in two of the county's 22 precincts, and as a result, none of the results were available until shortly after 10 p.m., when they were all reported at once.
"We endured a lot of adversity to pull this election off," Gibson said. "There are too many people to be thanked. But to all of the election judges out there who gave up their time today, and the Lawrence County Health Department, who provided workers to keep the polling area sanitized, and to my staff, who put in a huge effort today, I say thank you very much."
Gibson said that in a couple of precincts, the vote totals didn't "jibe."
"But we sat down with them and worked out those issues," he said. "At this time I'm satisfied that everything is good to go."
On the Republican side, Lawrence Countians showed faith in President Donald J. Trump, as he received 1,783 votes to challenger Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente's 46.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Mark C. Curran Jr. topped five candidates with 33.74 percent of the vote. Likewise, in the race for the 15th District Congressional seat, Mary Miller bested three others with 41.49 percent of the vote.
Darren Bailey was the choice of 1,338 Republican voters in Lawrence County, in the race for the 55th District State Senate seat, compared to 429 votes for Jeffrey E. Fleming.
In the race for the 109th District seat in the General Assembly, Andy Hires beat Adam M. Niemerg, 610-551, in Lawrence County.
Also on the Republican ballot, State's Attorney Michael M. Strange (1,732 votes) and coroner Shannon R. Steffey (1,784 votes) were unopposed. So were Lawrence County Board representatives Tom Robinson in District 1, David M. Burgett Jr. in District 2, Dustin Meadows in District 3, Jim Brewer in District 5 and David White in District 6.
Democrats throughout the state, as well as in Lawrence County showed their support for former Vice-President Joseph R. Biden, who will presumably run against Trump in the fall. From a ballot that featured 13 names, Biden received 481 votes - or 67.27 percent - to 182 for Bernie Sanders. None of the other candidates received more than 2.25 percent of the vote within the county.
Running unopposed to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate, Richard J. Durbin was supported by 615 Lawrence County Democrats. Other winners within the county were Erika C. Weaver in the race for the 15th District Congressional seat and John Spencer, who was unopposed for a spot on the ballot in the race for the 109th District seat in the General Assembly.
In another race of note, Ryan M. Curtis received 163 votes to make his way on to the ballot in an effort to be the District Representative on the Lawrence County Board. He will challenge White in the November election.