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Primary voters support incumbents

Sheriff Randy Waters and David Sampson will square off in November

Photo by Eugenia Jones
McCreary Countians went to the polls on Tuesday (May 17, 2022) to cast their votes.

Photo by Eugenia Jones
Candidates and fellow McCreary Countians gathered at the McCreary County Courthouse to hear vote tallies following Tuesday’s Primary Election.

By Eugenia Jones

During Tuesday’s Primary Election, McCreary County voters deemed the County’s local General Election in November will be comprised mostly of incumbents running unopposed with only two locally contested races for Sheriff and PVA.  The only exception will be if write-in candidates for office file a declaration of intent by Friday, October 28 at 4:00 p.m.  Currently, the two contested races include the McCreary County Sheriff’s race between Democrat incumbent Sheriff Randy Waters and Republican David Sampson and the PVA’s race between Republican incumbent Dwight Ross and Independent candidate Bruce Lominac.

Two of the most watched county-wide primary races in Tuesday’s election were those of McCreary County Sheriff and 52nd District State Representative.

In the race for McCreary County Sheriff, David Sampson pulled ahead to win the Republican nomination for McCreary County Sheriff with a total of 1,354 votes.  Milford Creekmore came in second with 927 votes, followed by Charles Smith with 109 votes.  

In the November General Election, Sampson will square off with the Democrat incumbent, McCreary County Sheriff Randy Waters.  Since Sheriff Waters was unopposed on the Democratic ticket in Tuesday’s Primary Election, his name did not appear on Tuesday’s ballot but will appear on the November ballot.  

Sampson is obviously pleased with his win and eagerly forging ahead to the next phase of his campaign.

“I’d like to thank the citizens of McCreary County,” Sampson commented after the primary results were tallied.  “I’m so happy they have confidence in me and offered me the opportunity to continue my campaign for Sheriff.  My goals in campaigning for the General Election are no different than they have been.  I will continue to run a clean campaign with my platform being about what I think I can offer as Sheriff-experience and leadership.  I will continue to try and reach out to each member of our community.” 

Sheriff Waters is equally excited about the upcoming race.

“It has been my honor to serve as the Sheriff of McCreary County for the past eight years,” Sheriff Waters remarked.  “I am looking forward to continuing my service to the citizens of this wonderful county for another term.  I’ve kept my promises by adding more paid, trained deputies than ever before and providing 24/7 law enforcement for all areas of the county.  We have added new and modern equipment and fostered positive relationships with other agencies to put dangerous drug dealers behind bars.  It hasn’t been an easy task but one I promised to do.  I think my actions show I have fulfilled my duties and promises.  I’m not a “sit behind” the desk type of Sheriff.  I work long hours, along with my valued staff, to serve and protect the citizens of McCreary County.”

Another closely watched county-wide race which also included Wayne County and southern Pulaski County was the 52nd District State Representative Republican race.  In the race, McCreary County native and long-time McCreary County Circuit Court Clerk Othel King challenged incumbent State Representative Kenneth Upchurch of Wayne County.  Although scoring a victory in McCreary County with 1,513 votes to Upchurch’s 985, King was outpaced in Wayne and Pulaski Counties.  The final tally registered a win for Representative Upchurch with 5,314 (63%) votes to King’s 3,180 (37%).

Representative Upchurch is clearly appreciative of his local voters.

“This was a huge win,” Representative Upchurch stated.  “I appreciate the voters of McCreary County and their trust in me.  To have nearly 40% of the vote in McCreary County against a McCreary County native who is an elected official is truly humbling for me.  It’s really phenomenal.”

In the races for county magistrates, incumbent Republicans William “Bill” Hale in District 1 and Bobby Strunk in District 3 were re-elected and face no Democratic competition in the fall.  Magistrate Strunk’s race was a nail biter as he pulled ahead to defeat fellow Republican Clayton Worley by only five votes.  Final tallies for the District 3 Magistrate’s race were as follows: Strunk-303 votes, Worley-298 votes, and Clark-66 votes.

Magistrate Strunk is happy to have the election behind him and is looking ahead to the future.

“I’m glad the election is over,” Strunk remarked.  “It was a very close race.  Now, I’m looking forward to finishing some projects I had already started with Fiscal Court.”

The Constable races offered up another cliffhanger in District 3 as incumbent Republican Cody Stephens squeaked past Republican Kenny Kidd to win by 6 votes.  Stephens tallied 298 votes with Kidd receiving 292.  Thomas Trammell garnered 59 votes.  Stephens faces no Democratic opposition in November.  

In the remaining three constable races, voters returned incumbents Darrell Hansford, Freddie Clark, and David Kilby to their positions.  The three face no Democratic opposition in the fall election.

Incumbent Republican Jailer Jessie Hatfield easily retained his position by defeating fellow Republican challenger Trevin McCullough by a vote of 1741 to 602.  Hatfield will not be challenged by a Democrat in the November election.

United States Representative (5th District) Republican incumbent Harold “Hal” Rogers easily outpaced Republican challengers by receiving the most votes in McCreary County and throughout the 5th District.

United States Senator Republican incumbent Rand Paul will face the Democratic nominee Charles Booker in November.  

According to the County Court Clerk’s office, the total number of ballots cast in the 2022 Primary Election was 2,729 or approximately 29% of registered voters.  In the 2018 Primary Election, 37.38% of registered voters cast their vote.  In the 2020 Primary Election, approximately 30% voted.

“Overall, things went fairly smooth,” County Court Clerk Eric Haynes commented.  “Voters are adjusting to voter centers, and the new equipment worked great.”

The November General Election will take place on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

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