LEESBURG, Ga. -- In the end, it turns out, experience does matter.
Lee County Commission Chairman Ed Duffy, who touted his experience in a campaign that turned testy, easily held off the challenge of anesthetist Lester Leggette for the Commission's District 3 seat Tuesday, earning 864 votes to Leggette's 341.
"I am humbled by the overwhelming support of the people of the Palmyra District," Duffy said as friends and supporters gathered at his home for a victory celebration. "Clearly, the people were happy with my conservative approach to government during these tough economic times."
Leggette was called to the hospital for a medical emergency late in the morning and did not get to greet voters as Duffy -- along with his granddaughter Kari Duffy and her friends Brooklyn Haggerty and Kendall Stumpe -- did for most of the day in the 96-degree heat.
Leggette's campaign manager, Herbert Gladin, did brave the heat, and he saw an ominous trend developing early for his candidate.
"There are a lot of folks coming out; it looks like a bigger turnout than we anticipated," Gladin said. "That could end up hurting us."
Indeed, Duffy gained a commanding 95-37 lead when absentee ballots were counted, and he maintained that 72-28 percent advantage as the votes from the three precincts in the Palmyra District trickled in.
Duffy outpolled Leggette 520-199 in the large First Baptist Church of Albany precinct, held a 156-59 advantage in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church precinct and carried the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church precinct 93-46.
"The voters are coming in very steady," First Baptist Poll Manager Erin McDonald said around 2 p.m. "There hasn't been a period when no one was in line to vote. I'm sure it's the commission race that's bringing people in."
Two female voters, who asked not to be identified, said they'd voted for Duffy as they left the First Baptist precinct.
"I voted for Ed Duffy because I believe he's interested in the county as a whole," one said. "I feel he's an honest man and very loyal to Lee County. It was disheartening to see the campaign turn so ugly."
"Ed Duffy's done a good job for the people in this district," the other said.
Duffy said he'd been "getting great feedback all day" while greeting voters at the First Baptist Church entrance. But perhaps it was his granddaughter who saw the writing on the wall.
"We've been out here since 7 o'clock this morning, and we've been busy," Kari Duffy said. "We've gotten a lot of thumbs up and a lot of horn honks. We take that as a positive sign."
In the end, indeed it was.