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Bobby McCallum, who lost a close race for sheriff four years ago, bounced back on Tuesday to decisively win by 20 points in unofficial results over Sheriff's Maj. Evan Sullivan for the Republican nomination in one of the most heated races in Levy County history.
McCallum received 2,412 votes or 58.01 percent to Sullivan's 1,612 or 38.77 percent and Noel Desmond's 134 votes or 3.22 percent.
McCallum, a former Levy County Sheriff's major who lost his job in 2004 after he supported Brett Beauchamp in a race against Sheriff Johnny Smith, will face Lee Sullivan, a nonpartisan candidate, in the Nov. 6 general election. Lee Sullivan, a Marion County Sheriff's major is no relation to Evan Sullivan.
“We're excited and very thankful,” McCallum said in a phone interview. “I don't know what to say. It's (due to) the grassroots of Levy County. It was tough times and we got through a lot of things and we're just blessed and thanks to the Lord.”
McCallum, a former Florida Highway Patrol Officer, said it was an advantage to not face an incumbent as he did four years ago when he lost to Sheriff Johnny Smith.
The Sheriff's Office has been divided on the two candidates in the Republican primary and McCallum said, “My whole campaign is on leadership and restoring leadership to the sheriff's office.
“To those deputies that supported him. that is their right. And I am very grateful to the sheriff's deputies who put themselves on the line and supported me.”
He said if elected in November, “I want to get them on the team to serve the citizens of Levy County.”
“I think they'll get on board.”
McCallum said he does not think the November election will be easy to win. “I'm going to get ready for November. … Lee (Sullivan) is a very formidable candidate and it's going to be tough.
“We can't take anything for granted. We're going to be back working very hard.”
Also winning nomination in Tuesday's Republican Party primary were:
• County Commissioner Mike Joyner of Morriston (R-District 1) to the District 3 County Commission seat, defeating two opponents Joseph Cino and Darryl Diamond. He faces Al Macri, a Democrat, in the general election.
• Businessman John Meeks of Bronson won the GOP nomination for the County Commission District 1 seat, defeating Bronson City Commissioner Jason Kennedy. In November he will face restauranteur Jamie Griffin, a Democrat.
Two candidate won election to office on Tuesday:
• Tammy Jones won the Republican nomination over challenger Brooke Ward for Supervisor of Elections. Because there is no opponent on the November ballot, she wins election.
• Incumbent County Court Judge James T. “Tim” Browning won election edging by challenger Cyndee Munkittrick in a nonpartisan race.
There will be a runoff for the District 2 school board seat after no candidate won a majority of the vote in the nonpartisan race. Chris Cowart of Cedar Key will face Kyle Quincey of Chiefland on the November ballot. Both are educators and businessmen.
In other races:
• Congressman Connie Mack won in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Levy County and in unofficial state results, defeating Mike McCalister, Marielena Stuart and Dave Weldon.
• Incumbent U.S. Sen Bill Nelson won the nomination of county and state Democrats defeating Glenn A. Burkett.
• Tea Party favorite Ted Yoho won the county Republicans' support for Congressional District 3. He was in a dead heat with Congressman Cliff Stearns for the Republican nomination. Defeated were state Sen. Steve Oelrich and Clay County Clerk of Court James Jett.
The results in Levy County took a while to come in on Tuesday after three of the 13 precincts had problems uploading their results to the computers, according to Supervisor of Elections Connie Asbell.
There were 7,711 votes cast in the election, 30.70 percent of the county's 25,211 registered voters. Of that number 1,064 were cast in early voting.
McCallum watched the results trickle in with a crowd of supporters outside the supervisor of elections office in Bronson and celebrated with them at the Fellowship Hall of Bronson United Methodist Church.
Sullivan gathered with supporters in Williston to await the results.
About 200 people, supporters of various candidates and interested voters gathered outside Asbell's office to await the results. Votes were projected on a screen across the street from the office as they came in. The County Commission had approved shutting down the street in front of the supervisor's office to accommodate the expected crowd.
To see the primary election results, click here.