07/18/12 — Allen keeps seat by just 13 votes

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Allen keeps seat by just 13 votes

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 18, 2012 1:46 PM

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Chuck Allen

It was a perfect storm of city politics -- a write-in campaign in a non-partisan election funded by the Republican Party in the weeks leading up to a low turnout election.

And Mayor Pro Tempore Chuck Allen was in the eye of the storm Tuesday night, watching each precinct's returns as they came in from the Wayne County Board of Elections office as they showed him with fewer votes than write-in votes cast.

The first results came in at 7:47 p.m. from the Wayne Center -- just a stone's throw away from the elections headquarters.

They continued to come in -- 29 of 30 precincts countywide -- until 9:18 p.m., when the results essentially froze for almost an hour while workers at the Goldsboro branch of the Wayne County Public Library handcounted ballots -- an official is overheard saying that there was a problem with the electronic counters.

Allen knew he had won the library. He had been campaigning there all day as he watched friends, neighbors and family members stream to the polls in support of him.

But he also knew that Wayne County Republican Party workers were handing out sample ballots instructing voters to write in Jerome Tew instead of casting a vote for the incumbent. He also said he knew that former councilman William Goodman's supporters were campaigning in a similar fashion to unseat him and Mayor Al King.

And so Allen was frozen with the numbers, staring at a vote total showing he was down by 24 votes with one precinct yet to report.

Then came the final update and with it, relief.

Allen's math had proven correct and, according to unofficial results, he would keep his seat after a hard-fought 13-vote victory -- of 355 ballots cast in his election he received 184.

"I'm glad it's over and it's a new day," Allen said this morning.

He said he knew it would be a difficult race to pull out, especially with the Wayne County Republican Party -- although he said it was more or less the Tea Party -- campaigning to unseat him.

"The Tea Party has been working very hard the last couple weeks with robocalling, knocking on doors, sending fliers out -- they put a lot of time and effort and money into unseating me," he said. "I knew that was going on and I knew it could be an issue in a low turnout race."

And while he eked out a win only by a baker's dozen, Allen said the results were less a referendum on his record and more of a conspiracy to remove him from office.

"This wasn't a movement about who's good to represent District 5 and the city of Goldsboro," he said. "It was more 'Let's get rid of Chuck Allen.'

"I give the Tea Party credit -- they worked hard."

His challenger was pleased with the results.

"I felt really good about what I did. It's healthy for politicians to have competition," he said. "If I had started early enough and been on the ticket I think the score would have been different."

He said he was especially pleased since he didn't spend much money on his campaign.

"I really didn't spend too much money," Tew said this morning. "I didn't have one single sign, but the folks are ticked off with Chuck Allen, and if he don't change he'll be gone."

Tew couldn't confirm how much money the Wayne County Republican Party had spent on his campaign, but said he had spent about $170.

He said the GOP had helped more by working the polls in his favor than they had through financial backing.

Tew said he had no reservations about injecting partisan politics into a non-partisan race.

"Everybody else does it. Why can't I?" Tew said of his accepting of assistance from the county Republican Party.

Still, Tew said he understood why the city election was intended to be as apolitical as possible.

"They're supposed to serve the people not themselves or their party," he said. "They owe allegiance to the people -- not the party and not themselves."

But as far as campaigns against Allen are concerned, Goodman's could have a longer-lasting effect as he'll be serving on the council alongside Allen after he won his race for the District 3 seat.

"We're going to do everything we can to work with him but, at the end of the day, we're going to make the decisions that are the best for the people of Goldsboro," he said.