COLUMBUS, Ga. – As incumbent Sheriff John Darr defends his position against challenger Donna Tompkins, he will also have to defend against some extra firepower. Two key endorsements could give Darr some difficulty.
“I think the voters spoke loud and clear,” Tompkins said.
Tompkins, a Democrat, reflects on election day during a bumpy campaign that included disqualification at one point.
“We’ve gone through just about everything, that’s true,” Tompkins said. “But that’s good in a sense because it has prepared me so much for the roller coaster ride of running a sheriff’s office. 67% of the people in this county voted for someone other than the incumbent,” Tompkins said.
20% of Muscogee County voters selected Republican Mark LaJoye. 33% voted for Darr, an Independent. Tompkins took home 46% of the vote. Since no candidate garnered 50% plus one vote, the top two vote earners, in this case Tompkins and Darr, will compete in a runoff election December 6. Tompkins will have the support and endorsements from LaJoye and Robert Smith, a former candidate who was one of four candidates disqualified in March.
“We’ve shared a lot of the same vision all throughout the campaign,” LaJoye said.
LaJoye praises Tompkins for her rational decision making and her 30-plus year career in law enforcement.
“I can work with anybody,” LaJoye said. “It doesn’t make a difference. The leader is the leader.”
Tompkins, LaJoye, and Smith all alluded to rebuilding relationships in the community. LaJoye says his political career is not over despite failing to become sheriff for the third time. All three referenced what they believed to be frivolous lawsuits against the city, perceived mismanagement of money, and controversial judgement in the Darr administration.
“If we can cross political lines and build bridges here among the candidates…because we all understand that that is what’s good for the people of Muscogee County,” Tompkins said.
Noticeably absent from the endorsement train: Pam Brown. The Democrat made the November ballot as a write-in candidate. However, she felt the effects of not making the top three choices. She failed to earn 5% on the ballot.
December’s runoff will determine if Darr gets a third term or if change is coming to the sheriff’s office. Darr believes Tompkins’ endorsements won’t make a difference in the way he runs his campaign.
“It doesn’t impact me either way,” Darr said. “My job is to continue for the next three weeks to work as hard as I can, get out here and touch as many people in this community.”
Darr says despite the triple-headed challenge, he likes his chances in a runoff.
“Hopefully people will recognize the things we’re doing out here within the sheriff’s office and in the community making a difference,” Darr said.