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Political notebook: commissioners’ room an exciting venue for election results

The excitement came slowly.

It was only 7:30 p.m. Unsurprisingly, the room was virtually empty. As a projector beamed numbers onto a white screen hanging at the front of the room.

People slowly began filing into the room as the night grew later, casting glances at the projection screen. There wasn’t much to see just yet. After all, the numbers were just absentee voting totals, a small percent of the overall electorate.

And the room — at its peak made up of mostly candidates for office — was certainly an even smaller percent of the overall electorate.

But crowd size didn’t dampen the mood. With each additional precinct, a candidate’s supporters stood up and cheered to their heart’s content. After all, for most offices, it only occurs every four years.

Republicans Jim Greene and Greg Edds lead the pack of commissioner candidates, while two candidates — Judy Klusman and Raymond Coltrain — battled it out for third. It grew quite tense at times. Coltrain is a reserved person, but emotion was easy to spot on him whenever results were announced.

When the final precinct was announced, Coltrain was being interviewed by a local radio station. He looked up at the screen, now showing the percent of precincts as reporting, and grimaced slightly. Deservedly so, Klusman was jubilant, after being locked in a tight match the entire night.

Coltrain and Klusman ended up within 76 votes of each other for third place. Klusman technically won, according to unofficial results, but at least 200 absentee ballots had yet to be counted on Tuesday. The final results will be approved, including any previously uncounted ballots, at the board of elections’ Monday meeting.

Throughout the election season, dozens of people touted the commissioners race as perhaps the most important in Rowan County’s history. It’s only fitting that such an important race comes down to such a close ending.

And, the end to the story hasn’t even been told yet.

Attempt to straight-shot Cohen fails

It doesn’t get much worse than last.

Perhaps last place is a reflection on unaffiliated candidate Chris Cohen’s lack of expenditures during his campaign or perhaps it’s simply his stance on Rowan-specific issues.

Regardless, the Rowan County Tea Party heavily publicized it’s efforts to straight-shot Cohen — voting for one candidate instead of the possible three. The tea party was to straight shot Cohen and ditch all Republican candidates simply to ensure others wouldn’t get votes.

Cohen did well in one or two precincts, but overall came in eighth of eight candidates.

Before all of the precincts came in, Cohen conceded, approaching the table where a Post reporter sat and conceded his defeat. Cohen said he planned to run for public office again, whether for city council or county commission. Either way, the 2014 election proved that straight-shooting a candidate doesn’t work, unless the numbers of voters involved is truly formidable.

The small group of people that straight-shotted not only wasted two of three votes but also missed out on a chance to make a difference in a 76-vote race for third place.

Alma Adams
sworn in on Nov. 12

Though Democrat Alma Adams won the 12th congressional district over Vince Coakley in the 2014 elections, she actually will begin serving early, a few weeks early than any other successful challenger in the nation. Adams is filling a set vacated by former congressman Mel Watt. Once Watt’s unexpired term is up, she’ll serve and additional four years.

Because she’s filling an unexpired term, Adams will be sworn in Nov. 12, in Washington D.C.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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