By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Matt Murray did not cheer or burst into celebration early Wednesday morning when the final votes were counted and he was declared winner of a three-man Republican primary for Curry County sheriff. Instead, the announcement was met with quiet satisfaction, saturated with exhaustion and relief.
In a spirited race, Murray garnered 48 percent of the 3,070 votes cast in the election. Curry County Undersheriff Doug Bowman Jr. earned 42 percent while Wesley Myers garned 9 percent of the votes.
Murray will run unopposed in the November election and is scheduled to take office in January, replacing two-term Sheriff Roger Hatcher.
Murray politely shook the hand of Deputy Clerk Connie Jo Lyman just before 1 a.m. Wednesday and left the courthouse with a small group of supporters as soon as the votes were tabulated.
Lyman, prior to issuing the results, told those in attendance a review of the votes would begin today.
“We won’t be starting right away because we are gonna have some coffee and talk about our wounds, but by 8:30 (a.m.) or 9 we’ll be rocking and rolling,” she said.
A crash of the server used to process the unofficial precinct reports statewide around 10 p.m. delayed the results well past the expected time for reporting the numbers.
The lateness of the hour pushed thoughts of celebration aside.
“I’ve had enough, I’m going home. It’s been a long 90 days, or however long it’s been,” Murray said.
“I’ll be able to breath again,” he said after it was all over. “I’m overjoyed. This is something I’ve always wanted to do for this county.”
Murray credited his win to good people and dedicated supporters.
“My short-term goal was to win the race. Now I’ll start thinking about long-term goals for the Sheriff’s Department,” he said.
Bowman thanked his supporters for what he termed a successful campaign even in loss.
“I just want to thank those in Curry County that supported me. I especially want to thank my family and friends for standing behind me the whole way,” he said.
Unsure of his next step, Bowman said the next six months as undersheriff will give him time to decide.
“Even in a losing effort, I am very proud of the job we did,” he said. “We ran a clean campaign.”