The race for the East District seat on the Surry County Board of County Commissioners will be between incumbent Republican Paul Johnson and former state representative David Diamont, a Democrat.
Election officials said voters turned out en masse compared to other primaries, with credit likely going to the Marriage Amendment on the ballot. About 35 percent of the county’s 43,687 voters cast their ballots yesterday.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, county voters chose Diamont over challenger Eddie Brown by a wide margin.
Diamont claimed 3,673 votes in the county, or 67.27 percent of the vote. Brown received 1,787 votes, or 32.73 percent.
Things were a bit closer in the Republican race, with Johnson receiving 4,196 votes, or 57.22 percent of the total votes cast in the race, compared to challenger Michael Hewett’s 3,137 votes, which translates to 42.78 percent of the total votes cast between the two.
Diamont credited both he and Brown with running a clean race.
“Eddie Brown and I are friends who’ve known each other a long time,” he said. “Neither of us conducted an aggressive campaign, but I feel very fortunate to have won. In our campaign there was nothing done or said by either of us that would be something that (Johnson) could use against us in the November race.”
Brown said that while he’s not bitter about the loss, he feels like Diamont may have done a bit more work getting word out to the voters.
“He and I made an agreement not to do any campaigning and I stuck to my word and didn’t do anything,” he said. “I try to be a man of my word, but it’s just one of those things. I think he probably did a lot more work, but my hat’s off to him.”
Brown, who has run for public office in the past, said yesterday’s battle will be his last.
“This will be my final stump,” he said. “I’m hanging it up.”
Johnson said the margin in the Republican race for the nomination was “tighter than I thought it would be.”
“I think (Hewett) probably worked the churches through the mail and telephone and got a lot of the church vote,” he said. “I did too, but I think he probably worked the network a little harder because he’s a preacher.”
He said he plans on working to pick up Hewett’s supporters in November.
“Hopefully there will be a trend in November and we will more than likely have the majority of the folks who voted for Michael will vote for me.”
Johnson said his hat’s off to Hewett.
“He and I both ran a good, clean race and I appreciate his views as much as I do my own. I look forward to working with him to defeat Dave Diamont in November,” he said.
Hewett said he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
“(Johnson’s) in his fourth term and the people like what he’s doing, so they voted for him again,” he said. “He ran on his record. I’d like to congratulate him and hope he does well in November.”
Diamont said November’s race between he and Johnson should be one for the record books.
“I think it’ll be an interesting race because Paul has served several terms on the Board of County Commissioners and has a strong record to run on and I have a record in the House of Representatives myself,” he said. “His party is in the majority right now in Surry County, so the deciding factors that will affect the race will be the large number of independent voters in the county.
“He probably has a bit of an advantage, but I think it will be a race that will be very competitive,” Diamont added.
Johnson said he’s not going to rest on his laurels between now and November.
“I’m planning on working about five times harder on that race,” he said. “We have five or six months and I want myself and my supporters to not rest until November gets here. We don’t plan on taking a day off.
“I probably won’t be doing much fishing this summer,” Johnson added.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.