POLK COUNTY -- Craig Pope continues to maintain his advantage by a slim margin over Dave Weston in the close race for the Republican nomination for the Polk County Commission Position 2 seat.
Only 77 votes -- a little more than 1 percent of the vote -- separates the two candidates. The results will not be certified until Friday, May 28, according to the Polk County Clerk's Office.
Updated unofficial results posted on May 20 have Pope leading with 2,344 votes, or nearly 32 percent, while Weston is a close second with 2,267, or nearly 31 percent of the votes. Mark Adams has 1,994 votes and Steve Bailey 797.
Danny Jaffer won the Democratic nomination for the seat by a more comfortable margin, with 3,056 votes or 59 percent. Opponent Michele Campione received 2,050 votes, about 40 percent.
Weston had been leading the Republican race by a slim margin in initial count results on election night, but Pope took the lead as more ballots were processed throughout the night.
Pope said he was surprised to see the lead change throughout the evening. He said after seeing initial results early in the night on May 18, he was preparing himself for defeat.
He wasn't aware he had taken the lead until Wednesday morning.
Pope believes the close race is a credit to all candidates running energetic campaigns. He also noted that the results were encouraging, given that he spent less money on his campaign than his opponents did.
"I'm quite pleased I didn't have to spend as much as they did to get to where I am," Pope said.
Jaffer found out about the election results when a friend called to congratulate him about 10 minutes after 8 p.m. on May 18. He learned then that he had about 60 percent of the vote, a margin that held throughout the night.
He commended Campione, his opponent, on a good race and said he hopes to see her involved in local politics in the future.
"I really appreciate the support I have gotten and look forward to the fall campaign," he said.
Democrat incumbent Ron Dodge and Republican Mike Ainsworth were each unopposed for Position 3 in the May primary. They will face off in November.