The Decatur Visitors Center erupted in whistles and cheers as the final numbers in the Republican primary were posted Tuesday night.
Chico Mayor J.D. Clark decisively won the Republican nomination for county judge with 55.33 percent of the vote, defeating Kyle Stephens and Bridgeport Mayor Keith McComis – with no runoff required.
Clark fist-bumped Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson as he wrote his vote total on the board – 3,001. Stephens received 1,170 votes, and McComis had 1,253.
“I don’t teach math, but that number’s a lot bigger than the two below it!” said Clark, who is also a history teacher at Bowie High School. “This is Wise County saying we believe in Wise County and that we can be better.”
Clark took command of the race early, leading 1,387 to Stephens’ 533 and McComis’ 506. Early voting numbers included absentee votes, which Clark also led with 209 votes to Stephens’ 101 and McComis’ 85. The margin barely fluctuated throughout the night.
“I feel completely incredible. I’m proud of the county, and it’s clear that the majority of us are on the same page,” Clark said. “They’re ready for fresh ideas and positive leadership.”
Stephens said “the voters have spoken.”
“(They) said what they wanted, and that’s what they’re going to have. I wish him all the luck in the world,” he said.
The former county commissioner wasn’t ready to commit to another race Tuesday night, but he didn’t rule it out.
“This is something I always wanted to do, even when I was commissioner, so we’ll have to see in four years,” he said.
McComis also said he might consider running for office again.
“I’m going to leave all those options open … it just depends,” he said. “I do appreciate the support I had, and the best part of this whole thing is I met some great people.
“The county has spoken, and that’s the way it is,” he said.
Clark will face Democratic candidate Jim Stegall in the November general election.
“I’m looking forward to good healthy debates,” Stegall said Tuesday night after congratulating Clark. “I’m just pleased that there were four good candidates for county judge.”
Stegall said since both he and Clark are educators, he expects they’ll both be skillful at informing voters. He noted that he did appreciate those who supported him in the Democratic primary, even though he had no opponent. He received 540 votes.
Clark’s Facebook page blew up as the final numbers were announced.
“So proud of the voters of Wise County. They put a great man in the judge’s office,” posted Clint Mercer.
“I have to say that I am honored to know each person that ran for county judge,” posted Victoria Holder. “I am so proud of J.D. for all of his hard work that he put into his campaign! Congratulations, J. D. Clark!”
“Congratulations to all the primary winners this eve. Had the pleasure of joining a fine young man and his friends this evening as he waited patiently to see if his hard work paid off,” posted Sabrina Easley. “Congratulations to the Wise County Republican candidate for county judge, Mr. J.D. Clark! Proud to call you a friend!”
Clark’s smile grew wider as he shook an endless stream of hands.
“A lot of people say I make a lot of speeches, but I’m pretty speechless right now,” he said, sinking onto a nearby table and taking a deep breath. “I’m just tickled that 3,001 people want me to work for them.”