Sheriff's stakes just went up

Strength endorses Peebles after missing chance to swing it his way

He didn’t endorse him until Wednesday afternoon. But – or, rather, because of that – no one may want Capt. Scott Peebles to win in the runoff race for sheriff more than sitting Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

In fact, Strength is banking on Peebles to win in the runoff.

“Absolutely I’m banking on it,” Strength said. “I promise you that.”

And no one will want Peebles’ runoff win more than Strength. Not even Peebles himself.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Strength acknowledged.

The reason: Strength firmly believes Peebles is an infinitely better candidate than rival Richard Roundtree. But Strength sat out Tuesday’s primary – choosing not to make an endorsement in that election because he had friends and family in it. His brother-in-law, Robbie Silas, was also on the Democratic ballot for sheriff. Running on the Republican side was Strength’s best friend, Freddie Sanders, who won his primary easily.

Now that the race is down to Peebles and Roundtree on the Democratic side, Strength is jumping in. Wednesday afternoon, Strength endorsed Peebles in an e-mail. One source also says Strength will endorse Peebles soon in taped “robo-calls” to county voters.

The upshot of all this is that Strength has as much riding on the runoff as Peebles does. Maybe more: If Peebles loses, he lives to fight another day. But if Roundtree ends up winning and goes on to victory in November, Strength and plenty of others may rue his decision to stay out of Tuesday’s primary.

Why? Because the numbers clearly suggest that an endorsement by Strength in the Tuesday election might have eliminated the need for any runoff: Peebles, in a four-way race, won nearly 47 percent of the vote. He needed only just over 50 percent to win outright.

In short, a strong endorsement from Strength might have swung the election Tuesday. Alas, we’ll never know.

Strength is confident Peebles will win in the runoff Aug. 21.

“He is the most qualified of the two candidates, beyond any doubt,” Strength told us Wednesday. “Anything can happen, granted. I think everybody’s going to see, between these two candidates, that Peebles is head and shoulders above Roundtree. I just do not believe the voters can be fooled on who’s the better candidate.”

He better hope he’s right. If he’s not, and Roundtree wins in November, folks will look back to Tuesday’s primary and wonder if Strength’s decision to sit it out for family reasons cost Peebles the outright win.

Strength insists he’s not kicking himself today – and expressed hope the decision to stay silent on Tuesday’s election won’t haunt him in November.

“I hope that when someone makes a decision and they feel confident it’s the right decision, everything else will fall into place,” he said.

That, of course, will be up to voters Aug. 21.

You are eligible to vote in the Democratic runoff if you voted Democratic on Tuesday – or if you voted “nonpartisan” or didn’t vote at all.

We urge everyone eligible to come back to the polls Aug. 21 and close the deal. It’s important we elect Scott Peebles, far and away the most qualified man for the job.

Just ask the sitting sheriff.

Ronnie Strength endorses Capt. Scott Peebles for next sheriff
Peebles stands out

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