With a close Democratic primary race for Sampson sheriff now behind him, winner Freddie Butler said Wednesday there was no time to bask in one victory because there was still much work to be done. And he called for party unity, saying it would be needed as the race now continues.
“I hope and pray we can all come together and work to make this a better place to live and proposer,” he said in a telephone interview.
Butler narrowly defeated David Kidd for the right to face Republican incumbent Sheriff Jimmy Thornton in the November election. Unofficial results from the Sampson County Board of Elections show Butler received 1,680 votes, or 52.75 percent of all votes casts, to Kidd’s 1,505.
Kidd declined comment about the election results.
A tired but elated Butler was still trying to take in his close but assured victory in the primary Wednesday morning, tipping his hat to all those he credited for making his win possible. “This is a victory for me, but it’s more of a victory for every single person who helped me get to this point. I deeply appreciate all those who helped me through their support, speaking on my behalf, putting up signs, going to the polls …. it means more than I can say.”
But Butler cautioned that the work was far from over as he now turns his attention to the general election.
“I think the people have spoken,” Butler said of the primary results, “now we need to move forward as a united party to be successful in the fall.”
He said the close race between himself and Kidd was exactly what he expected. “I knew from the beginning that we could not take anything for granted. We needed to get out and work, talk to people, listen to their concerns … I felt like it would be a close race, and it was.”
The turnout, he noted, was a little less than he had thought it would be. “With the totals I’ve been seeing, it was a little off from the last primary, but I’ll take the win,” he stressed.
While some opted to spend election night at the Department of Social Services, where results were scrolling on a large screen in the second floor conference room, Butler said he and wife Lynn went to Pizza Inn to grab a bite to eat.
After traveling to different precincts throughout the day, Butler said food and time with his wife was the way he wanted to spend the first few hours after the polls closed.
“But I was getting the results. I’d hear one tally, then another from people who kept calling me. I kept telling them to be patient, the finals would be in soon after.”
And when they were, it gave Butler the victory he had wanted.
The son of former Sheriff Graham Butler, Tuesday’s primary winner has said he opted to run because of concerns he’d heard from the community, concerns he shared and wanted to do something about.
“I feel it is my obligation to serve and protect so the citizens of this county may enjoy a better quality of life,” Butler said when he announced his candidacy. “I want to help others, and I feel like I can do this county a lot of good.”
All votes are unofficial until next Tuesday’s canvass, being held at 11 a.m. in the Board of Elections offices.
(Editor Sherry Matthews can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 111. Follow us on Twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.)