Former Deputy Ousts Long-Time Camden Sheriff

Published On: May 23 2012 03:32:04 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 16 2008 08:29:56 AM EDT
KINGSLAND, Ga. -

After 24 years, Camden County Sheriff Bill Smith was voted out as the county's top cop.

In Tuesday's Republican primary, challenger Tommy Gregory, a lieutenant with the Kingsland Police Department, won 53 percent of the vote.

Smith had been under fire for allegations of misusing seized drug money as well as paying inmates for labor, including work on private property. His office was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and is currently the subject of a federal grand jury probe.

Smith called the allegations false and said they were being used as political mudslinging by his opponent.

Gregory told Channel 4 that he felt the voters had spoken.

"They want a sheriff they can be proud of, and that's one of things I ran on in my campaign and promised to do the right things for the right reasons. They put their trust in me and I feel that's what won this race," Gregory said.

There is no Democrat in the race, but the winner is expected to face independent candidate Rich Gamble in November.

Gamble, a former Navy investigator, lost a race against Smith in 2004.

The Camden County primary ballot also featured contests for clerk of superior court, tax commissioner and three county commission seats.

Clerk of Court Susan Waldron won reelection over two opponents.

Voters returned incumbents Steve Berry and David Rainer to Camden commission, but no candidate got the needed 50 percent in the three-way race for district 1, so it appears to be headed for an Aug. 5 runoff.

In state Senate seat covering Brantley, Camden, Charlton and Glynn counties, incumbent Jeff Chapman survived a primary challenge by Terry Carter. There is not Democrat in the race, so Chapman will serve another four-year term.

Southeast Georgia state Reps. Roger Lane and Mark Hatfield easily won over their Republican opponents. Lane has no opposition in November, but Hatfield will face Democrat Jaki Johnson for the district 177 seat.

Democratic U.S. Senate Hopefuls Go To Runoff The top race statewide was the five-way Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Five members of the U.S. House also are facing primary challenges. Dozens of state legislative seats are also up for grabs.

The race for the U.S. Senate pits two political veterans -- DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones and former state lawmaker Jim Martin -- against three political newcomers. Dale Cardwell, Rand Knight and Josh Lanier are each making their first bid for elected office.

Jones and Martin are expected to meet in a runoff in a bid to challenge Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss in November.

Jones and Martin led in the five-way race, but since neither was able to top the 50 percent of the vote needed to claim the nomination outright.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Jones had roughly 41 percent to Martin's 34 percent and will meet in the Aug. 5 runoff.

5 Incumbents Beat Back Challengers For U.S. House Five congressional incumbents easily routed challengers Tuesday after light turnout in Georgia's party primaries.

Veteran Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta fought and won his first Democratic primary challenge in 16 years and will return unopposed to Congress.

Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Broun in northeast Georgia defeated a well-funded rival backed by the state GOP establishment.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall crushed a Macon teacher in central Georgia. Rep. David Scott also defeated a Democratic primary challenger. Broun, Marshall and Scott will face rivals from the opposite party in November.

Broun's commanding victory over Barry Fleming comes 11 months after Broun eked out victory in a runoff against a state senator considered being the GOP front-runner for the seat left open by the death of U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Broun led Fleming, an attorney and high-ranking state legislator, 71 percent to 29 percent.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow easily defeated state Sen. Regina Thomas in the 12th congressional district in eastern Georgia. Barrow, who had the support of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, was leading with 76 percent of the vote to Thomas' 24 percent, with about 96 percent of precincts reporting.

John Stone, a former congressional aide from Augusta, won a three-way GOP primary in that district.

In Atlanta's 5th congressional district, the incumbent Lewis led with 68 percent with 52 percent of precincts reporting.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins and state Rep. "Able" Mable Thomas had argued that Lewis, a national civil rights icon, is out of touch with the needs in his district.

Rep. Jack Kingston, incumbent in coastal Georgia's 1st congressional district, had no Republican challenger, but will face Democrat Bill Gillespie in November.

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