No one will ever know whether it would’ve made the difference.
But Ronnie Strength now knows he could’ve done more.
The retiring Richmond County sheriff knew in his heart that his Capt. Scott Peebles was far and away the best qualified candidate to replace him. But because Strength’s brother-in-law, Robbie Silas, was also in the race, Strength didn’t endorse Peebles until recently – until after Silas was eliminated in the July 31 primary.
Again, we’ll never know – but that decision may have cost Peebles the race, and cost Richmond County the chance to make him sheriff.
You see, Peebles was just a few percentage points away from winning the Democratic nomination outright July 31. And it’s almost certain the Democrat will win in November.
An earlier endorsement from Strength might have put Peebles over the top, and avoided the need for the runoff.
So, we wondered: As he watched Tuesday night as Peebles lost the runoff election to Richard Roundtree, did Sheriff Strength have a sinking feeling?
“Sure I did,” he told us. “Absolutely I did.”
But that doesn’t mean he regrets his decision to sit the primary out. The sheriff is sticking to his guns.
“No,” he said of any regret. “I made a decision early on and stuck with (it). I’m going to have to live with that.”
So, apparently, is Augusta.
To be fair to the sheriff, he blames Peebles’ loss on voter complacency and lack of turnout. Indeed, Peebles received some 600 fewer votes in the Tuesday runoff than he got in the July 31 primary, while Roundtree increased his vote total by some 2,000 votes.
Peebles lost to Roundtree Tuesday by less than 500 votes.
What is with people, that they can’t lift a finger to engage in the most basic and easiest act of citizenship – a right others have died to protect?
In addition, Strength said he’s also heard that some of the vote Tuesday was a backlash against the local opinion media, which was squarely behind Peebles.
Of course, there’s a good reason for that backing. Peebles was unquestionably the better candidate, as both Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Sheriff Strength attested to before the runoff.
Just one election late.
Peebles graciously called
for rallying behind the next sheriff.
“Let’s have a positive attitude and do what’s best for this city and get behind whoever wins this election,” Peebles said.
He’s absolutely right. Everyone in this community should stand ready to help the next sheriff continue the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office’s sterling service to this county.
We don’t need any more second-guessing after this week.