Joe Don Winningham will not be asking for a recount in one of the closest judicial elections in recent memory.
“The election is what it is,” Winningham said on Wednesday, “and I lost fair and square. I’ve already congratulated my opponent, so…”
“I’m not a recount kind of guy,” he also said.
Deputy Prosecutor Troy Braswell won by 83 votes, according to unofficial votes. This is in a race where 16,751 votes were cast in more than 100 voting precincts spread over three counties.
The gap between victory and defeat in this race was slightly less than half of one percent.
The last time a judicial race was so close was in 2002, when Former Circuit Judge Mike Maggio won by about 60 votes in his race against Frank Shaw.
“A close loss is always painful,” Shaw said on Wednesday. “However, it’s worked out well for me. I’m satisfied with my position and station in life.”
Election commissioner James Bargar said on Wednesday that, as he understands it, “when we certify the vote, we’re essentially going to be doing a recount,”, so any discrepancies should be caught when the results are certified.
Also, the unofficial results show that in Faulkner County alone 827 people who turned out to vote for somebody didn’t cast a vote in the Braswell/Winningham election. These are counted as “under votes” in the county clerk’s tabulated result documents.
There were 820 under votes in the Byrd/Clark judicial election and 862 in the Chandler/Foster election — indicating that a similar number of voters didn’t know enough about the candidates to vote or didn’t have a preference between them. In the Brazil/Murphy election, there were 684 under votes.
Conway City Attorney Mike Murphy thanked the voters of Faulkner, Searcy and Van Buren counties who gave him his narrow victory over sitting Circuit Judge Amy Brazil in an email to media on Tuesday. “Even though we were the underdog in terms of money and institutional advantages, our volunteers worked hard in all three counties to get our message out. … I congratulate Amy Brazil and her family for a hard-fought campaign.”
In contrast, the Sheriff’s race had only 166 under votes. One way to interpret this is that many more people turned out to vote for the Sheriff election, which incumbent Andy Shock won handily, than they did for the judicial elections; and that among the judicial elections, the Brazil/Murphy race had the most attention.