After outspending his opponent by almost $58,000, Lee S. Coleman defeated Nebra Porter in the runoff election Tuesday for the new Place 3 circuit court judge position.
Coleman, who will take office in January, won 54 percent of the total vote, or 9,303 votes, over Porter, who had 46 percent of the vote with 7,880 votes.
The West Point resident and former state representative will become the first judge to fill the new position, which serves Lowndes, Clay, Noxubee and Oktibbeha counties.
“I”m extremely happy that we won and I”m extremely grateful to my supporters, whose hard work enabled us to win,” Coleman said Wednesday.
Coleman will serve a four-year term, joining current 16th District judges Jim Kitchens and Lee Howard, who were re-elected Nov. 2.
Porter, who knocked former candidate Bob Marshall out of the race in the Nov. 2 election, also thanked her supporters, who did a “great job with what we had to work with.”
Although she was disappointed with the results, Porter said the election “was not a loss to me” because she was able to meet “some awesome people.”
“I learned of some really good activities going on in the community,” she continued. “I found other avenues to give back to the community.”
Porter said she has no plans to challenge Coleman again in 2014.
Both candidates said the low turnout was lamentable but expected. While 35,539 people voted Nov. 2, only 17,183 voted Tuesday.
“We encountered a lot of people (Tuesday) who didn”t even know there was a runoff,” Porter said. “Others were just living their lives — it just wasn”t an important part of their (day).”
Having the runoff election two days before Thanksgiving and the bad weather Tuesday morning didn”t help, Coleman said.
“It was a terribly inconvenient time to schedule the election,” he added.
Lowndes County had the highest turnout, mirroring the Nov. 2 election.
There, Coleman took 56.3 percent of the vote, or 3,740 votes, leaving Porter with 43.6 percent, or 2,899 votes.
In Clay County, where both candidates practice law, Coleman landed 55.2 percent of the vote, or 2,769 votes. Porter, who had 44.8 percent of the vote with 2,248 votes, had carried the county in the Nov. 2 election.
In Oktibbeha County, Coleman had a strong lead with 55.1 percent of the vote, or 2,047 votes. Porter had 44.9 percent of the vote, or 1,666 votes.
Porter”s only county-wide win was in Noxubee County, where she took 58.8 percent of the meager vote, or 1,067, leaving Coleman with 41.2 percent, or 747 votes.
Coleman said a major factor in the race was his door-to-door strategy that let him meet voters face to face.
He also had significantly more financial support, spending $66,105.94 to Porter”s $8,210.85.
“I”m glad we had the resources to run an adequate campaign,” Coleman said. “Certainly the fact that we had more resources than she did played a factor in the race.”
After Coleman is sworn in Jan. 2, he will begin his first circuit court term Jan. 10 in Clay County.