Lt. Richard Roundtree is all smiles after winning the Democratic nomination for Richmond County sheriff. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 22, 201)
News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Lt. Richard Roundtree is looking ahead to the November election, where he's looking to become Richmond County's first African-American sheriff.
Roundtree narrowly edged out Cpt. Scott Peebles in Tuesday's Democratic runoff, winning the race by only about 500 votes.
"I never thought that I'd be the first anything, let alone the historic nature of being the first African-American sheriff candidate going into the race," Roundtree said.
Campaign Adviser Randy Frails says, "We're feeling just wonderful, ecstatic. We feel like this was a miracle."
But as soon as the celebrations are over, it's time to hit the ground running for November.
"We have more work to do," Frails said. "Freddie [Sanders] is a formidable opponent. Freddie did not get in this race just to be a stopgap."
Sanders is the Republican nominee for sheriff and says, "We're running hard and we're going to run hard. We're going to give the people of Richmond County a choice."
Roundtree responds, saying, "Freddie has his message and I have my message. I respect Freddie a great deal."
Roundtree says each candidate's platform will be important in the weeks ahead.
"Our message is not going to change. Our strategy might change a little bit, but our message is not going to change," Roundtree assured his followers.
Roundtree says he hopes to attract some of Peebles' supporters, including a lot of those crossover voters.
"Our strategy is to keep putting our message out to more people," he said.
They know it isn't going to be a cakewalk to victory, though.
"We firmly believe that we are going to have to work hard to overcome and win in November," Frails said.
But, they say they've overcome the odds once, and they plan to do it again.
"We always felt like an underdog. There were a lot of people who told us it was our race to lose because of the numbers," Frails said.
Roundtree tells News 12 that Peebles called him minutes after the final votes were in, congratulating him and letting him know that he has his support in November.
We spoke with Peebles who says that wasn't a formal endorsement, but he isn't saying whether or not he will endorse a candidate in the race at a later date.