DOBSON — Election tensions led to a confrontation between two public figures outside the early voting location at the Surry County Courthouse on Friday.
Former candidate for a Mount Airy District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners Allen Poindexter says he was “cussed out” by county board Chairman Buck Golding as he campaigned for a Democrat outside the polls.
Poindexter filed a formal complaint with the Surry County Board of Elections and the N.C. Board of Elections regarding the verbal altercation.
Poindexter said he has been on site, outside of the 50-foot buffer zone mandated by elections officials, since the early voting began on Thursday. He has been passing out literature for county commissioner candidate Ronald Bowman, conservative judges and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“He called me a f—-ing idiot,” said Poindexter, whose complaint states the same.
Poindexter said the comment stems from his support of Bowman, who is a Democrat.
Golding and Poindexter are both registered Republicans. Poindexter lost his bid to be the GOP nominee for the seat then held by County Commissioner Jimmy Miller in the 2016 primary. Golding has been actively campaigning for Commissioner Van Tucker, who Bowman is challenging.
“He said, ‘What in the hell do you think you are doing? You are about the stupidest son of a b—— alive,’” Poindexter recounted.
Poindexter said Golding went on to tell him, as a Republican, he should be supporting Tucker.
“I vote for the person,” said Poindexter, who called Tucker “cocky, arrogant and an opportunist.”
Tucker was appointed to the board after challenging veteran Republican County Commissioner Paul Johnson. Johnson stepped down after pleading guilty to felony charges related to falsifying county travel vouchers, and the board opted to replace him with his GOP primary challenger, Tucker.
Poindexter said he’s not the lone Republican backing Bowman in the race for the East District seat on the county board. There is a large population of Republicans who would rather see Bowman in the seat.
“He (Bowman) even bought a ticket to our Republican fundraiser and showed up at the draw-down,” explained Poindexter after noting Tucker wasn’t at the event.
Tucker said he categorically denies being cocky or arrogant, and even noted he was personally hurt by such accusations.
“Arrogant and cocky isn’t what I learned to be in Sunday School, and it’s not what I learned to be from my parents,” said Tucker.
Tucker said he believes when his opponents couldn’t find any real character flaws, they resorted to the baseless name calling. Part of the price of holding a public position is listening to insults and assaults from the other side of the aisle or — in this case — Tucker’s own side of the aisle.
Tucker also said he respects his opponent and gets along with him, but he is disheartened by the path Poindexter and others within the GOP have taken in supporting a “proud Democrat since 1974.”
He noted the he and Bowman have had nothing but common courtesy for each other throughout the duration of the campaign.
“There are factions within the party, and these issues are probably birthed from those issues,” explained Tucker. “Allen Poindexter is the agitator here. He’s the one, who is a Republican and just ran for office as a Republican, who is out wearing a shirt and campaigning for a Democrat.”
The issue goes back to when the Surry County Executive Committee recommended another person to fill the seat Tucker now holds, said Tucker. The county board voted not to go along with the recommendation and to appoint Tucker to fill Johnson’s unexpired term.
“They have resented me ever since,” explained Tucker. “But I was asked to serve and I agreed. I was also the only one to file to run against Johnson in the primary. I was the only one in the GOP to step up to that challenge.”
Tucker also indicated he believed Poindexter and others were being disingenuous in their interactions with voters, painting Bowman as a conservative to likely Republican voters and touting his status as a Democrat to obvious Democrat voters.
“Win, lose or draw, I’m bigger than any of Allen Poindexter’s childish games,” said Tucker. “That opinion of me is inaccurate, and I guess we will let the good people of Surry County decide if it’s true.”
Poindexter said he doesn’t have an issue with Golding’s disagreement on the matter, rather he took issue with the manner in which it was voiced.
“I didn’t appreciate the way he talked to me,” said Poindexter, who noted he had reached his hand out to shake Golding’s hand. “He didn’t have to cuss at me.”
Some bystanders quickly walked away from the area, likely fearing a physical altercation could occur, according to Poindexter.
Poindexter also said Golding issued him a warning, stating “as long as there is breath in his lungs” Poindexter would never be elected to office in Surry County.
Surry County Elections Director Susan Jarrell confirmed her office did receive the complaint. However, there is no recourse her organization can offer, as the altercation took place more than 50 feet from the polling location.
“In the conversation we determined that this conversation occurred outside the 50 foot buffer zone,” wrote Jarrell in an email. “The Board of Elections office does not have any jurisdiction on incidents occurring outside this zone.”
Jarrell noted had the incident occurred within the confines of the buffer zone the report would be sent to the three-person Board of Elections for action. Jarrell could not say what action the board could or would take in such an instance, as she has never had to take such an infraction before the board.
Repeated attempts to reach Golding for comment were no successful.
Poindexter said he is undeterred by any threats coming from Tucker’s corner. He has remained at the polls since the incident, and he plans to be there through the Nov. 8 elections.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.