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Dekle and Anderson win by wide, narrow margins

Lee Anderson fails to carry Columbia, Richmond counties

Posted: August 23, 2012 - 9:09am  |  Updated: August 25, 2012 - 11:02pm
Lee Anderson is hugged by Columbia County Clerk of Court Cindy Mason as the final numbers were posted Tuesday night. His daughter Katie Anderson, wife Donna Anderson and son Benjamin Anderson celebrate in the background.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Lee Anderson is hugged by Columbia County Clerk of Court Cindy Mason as the final numbers were posted Tuesday night. His daughter Katie Anderson, wife Donna Anderson and son Benjamin Anderson celebrate in the background.

For Columbia County residents Lee Anderson and David Dekle, Tuesday’s election night will be remembered for margins both narrow and wide.

Dekle, running for the Columbia County Board of Education District 1 seat, won by a landslide, while Anderson, fighting for the right to face off against Democratic incumbent John Barrow for the District 12 Congressional seat, won by a margin so narrow it isn’t considered official yet.

Anderson spent his Tuesday counting his way toward what he hopes will eventually be called a victory one vote at a time.

In a room festooned with balloons and his now-ubiquitous yellow tractors, he played the numbers game. Seated in front of a tablet, with small scraps of paper filled with facts and figures, Anderson quietly pondered his progress. His fingers followed lines of numbers as statistics were analyzed and discussed. And while handshakes were cordially offered and politely accepted, there were no smiles. Anderson was all business.

He was saving the smiles for the moment he announced victory.

Although Anderson did not make himself available to reporters, citing time restraints, his political director, Scott Knittle, confirmed that despite the narrowest margin of difference between the two candidates, Anderson was declaring himself District 12’s Republican congressional candidate.

“Tonight we’re claiming victory,” Knittle said. “Of course a recount may be a possibility if this in fact is the margin, but tonight we’re declaring victory.”

Although Anderson declared victory, he did have to concede defeat in Columbia County, his home. Rick Allen carried Columbia County with 52.64 percent of the 10,567 votes cast.

“We would have liked to have won it here,” Knittle admitted. “We will during the general election.”

During his victory speech, Anderson reinforced the idea of family. With his wife and children by his side, he declared that it was time for all the candidates in the District 12 race to unite against Democratic incumbent John Barrow.

“Tonight we won a battle and tonight we start a war,” he said. “This is what it is all about. Our families. Our homes. We are giving freedom back to the people of District 12 and we’re sending John Barrow and Obama home.”

The race for the Columbia County Board of Education District 1 seat, on the other hand, ended up not being much of a race at all.

David Dekle, who was forced into a runoff with Carolyn Chase after the July 31 primary, beat her with a healthy 63.4 percent of the 3,945 votes cast.

“It’s flattering,” said Dekle of the margin of victory. “But I certainly don’t want to take anything away from Carolyn. She’s a very nice woman and very dedicated, dedicated to the kids and education. I think, in the end, I was just able to mobilize people a little better.”

The election was Dekle’s first experience as a political candidate and he admitted he was excited about putting the campaign behind him.

“It was tough,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s good to know my first – or as my wife is calling it, my last – campaign went well. It’s encouraging.”

First on Dekle’s agenda is assisting in the search for a new Columbia County school superintendent. Current Superintendent Charles Nagle recently announced he would retire at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

“They are allowing me to sit at the table for those discussions,” Dekle said. “And obviously that has to be our first priority.”

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