Spending the first election night in decades away from the office paid off nicely for Mark Earley, the leading contender to replace his boss, Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho.
Earley bested his closest rival, Representative Alan Williams, 49.2 percent to 38.9 percent. That was just shy of the 50 percent majority required to avoid a November runoff.
The man mostly known as Sancho’s protégé credits experience for his strong showing.
“People say it just takes leadership to run this office. That is not true. And it’s not just about voter outreach. That’s the simple part. It’s the technical part behind the scenes that makes or breaks this office.”
Earley spent much of the night holed up in a banquet room at Georgios Restaurant with a handful of friends and supporters. He said it felt eerie not to be running an election after so many years working behind the scenes.
“Yes. This is the first time. It feels very strange…”
Tena Pate finished third with 11.7 percent.