Lt. Richard Roundtree pulled off a shocking win Tuesday in a David vs. Goliath campaign in the Democratic runoff for Richmond County Sheriff, defeating favorite Capt. Scott Peebles.
Fighting Peebles’ huge campaign war chest and a run-off endorsement from retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength, Roundtree got his voters to come out in stronger numbers on a rainy Tuesday, giving him the edge. He won by 447 votes out of 26,977 votes cast.
“I think it’s a win for the citizens of Augusta,” Roundtree told The Jail Report after the win. “We were fighting against the odds.”
Peebles conceded the race early in a quick address to supporters at The Foundation Club, saying “it should have never been this close.” He said he believes some supporters stayed home thinking he had the win in the bag. Asked about the possibility of a recount, he said, “We’ll see. We’ll see.”
Peebles and Roundtree were the top-two vote getters after the four-man Democratic primary July 31, which also included Lt. Robbie Silas and Lt. John Ivey. The run-off election was required since Peebles fell just short of the 50 percent plus 1 vote needed for an outright victory.
Now, Roundtree will have to gear up for the Nov. 6 election where he will be challenged by Augusta attorney Freddie Sanders, who qualified as a Republican. Sanders won his primary besting Mike Godowns, a security worker at Plant Vogtle.
Strength cleared the path for a changing of the top lawman when he announced in March that he was ready to trade his sheriff’s badge for fishing gear and time on his tractor.
Strength did not endorse a candidate before the primary but did publicly support Peebles for the run-off.
Strength was in a no-win situation with the primary with his brother-in-law, Silas, running against Peebles.
Peebles credited his former co-worker with running a good campaign. Shaking hands with supporters and getting tight hugs from a few emotional volunteers, Peebles was heard saying, “It will be alright guys. They’ll be another time.”
Roundtree said he will spend the rest of the week shaking hands with the people who made his victory possible. But he expects a call for a recount.
“Yeah, less than 1 percent of the vote, I expect they will,” he said. “I think we’ll be fine.”