Incumbent Shelby Co. judge requesting recount in wake of 1-vote - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Incumbent Shelby Co. judge requesting recount in wake of 1-vote loss

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SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) -

Incumbent Shelby County Judge Rick Campbell is requesting a recount. He was narrowly unseated by one vote. Yes you heard right, by only one vote in the Republican Primary. For now, County Clerk Allison Harbison is the winner. No Democrat candidate ran.

The voter registrar is waiting for three provisional voters to come to the courthouse and present their identification documents. A provisional voter is allowed to vote, but the vote isn't counted until the reason for voting provisional is met.

The votes will be counted once an acceptable form of identification is presented, which, of course, could swing the election either way.

Until then their ballots remain in a "secrecy envelope." 

Harbison said her win is leaving her numb. The defeated judge said he's left with total shock.

"It could swing the election; it could, but I just have faith that it will whatever the outcome it will be what the voters want, so that will be fine with me," Harbison said.

"I figured 52. Fifty-two percent to fifty-three percent is what I thought O would win by," Campbell said. "I thought I would win by a couple of hundred votes. I really didn't believe it would be a horse race."

The provisional voters have six days to present their documentation. Several other provisional voters reasons, other than ID, are also being researched. No word yet when the recount will occur. That won't be soon enough for two anxious candidates.

Why was the Shelby County judge's race so close? Could it have been a damaging political ad? Or a newly built road? Or remnants of a fierce water issue debate?

Take your pick, but they all represent how quickly local politics can take a turn for the worse.

Shelby County voters heard this sound bite across the air waves of its local radio station the Monday before Election Day.

"As a concerned taxpayer, some wonder if there's an explanation as to why 2.3 miles of Precinct 3, County Road 3046 has been newly paved with asphalt," the sound bite stated. "The pavement begins at the crossing of County Road 3047 and continues directly to the entrance of Bonehill Hunting Club."

The hunting club supports the Bonehill Scholarship Foundation, which is chaired by Rick Campbell, the current Shelby County judge. Fred Borders, a local businessman, said it's more than a coincidence, so he bought 40 radio spots. In addition, he wrote a letter to the local online paper.

"If I was going to call it something, I would say it's a highway to nowhere," Borders said. "Of course, I know he has a lot of rich buddies and friends that utilize that hunting club, but there's too many other places that road could have been utilized."

County Commissioner Travis Rogers said the preapproved road, which was paid for with over $1 million in Hurricane Ike grant funds, was solely his decision.

"I did not have anything to do with that road," Campbell said.

Campbell said he was dealing with "bloody politics" in the 11th hour before the election. .

"In my opinion it was a low blow, and Fred Borders is a friend of mine, but I think he hit me below the belt...because it was a lie," Campbell said.

When asked if he thought the allegation cost him the election, Campbell replied, "It certainly didn't help it."

"One hundred-seven yards, which would be 321 feet," Borders said.

Borders is one of those East Texans who believes a road ending that close to Bonehill just doesn't pass the smell test. "I went to the radio with it because yes, I wanted it come out before the election," Borders said. "I can't believe anybody was such an idiot, to do that right before the election."

Judge-elect Allison Harbison said she knew of the road, but never mentioned it. She said the ad was Border's decision, not hers.

"I didn't want to sling any mud, and I didn't want to bring up any bad decisions previously," Harbison said. "And I won't now."

The dissension between Borders and Campbell began over water. The poultry businessman initiated the successful defeat of a water conservation district, a district Campbell wanted. 

"It's a three year process, and I couldn't turn my back on Senator Nichols and say, ‘I'm not for it,'" Campbell said.

Borders said the issue with the failed water district was "not necessarily" his motivation for running the radio ads and the letter to the local online paper.

Whatever the motivation, something led to a close race. It's local politics at its best.

Good evening to you east Texas. Glad you're with us tonight.

East Texas News checked with the Shelby County voter registrar right before quitting time. So far no date has been set for a vote re-count.

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