Russell County Republicans decide to take no action on candidate's election challenge

Finding nothing untoward with last week’s primary in Russell County, local Republican Party leaders today decided to take no action on an election challenge filed by Brad Wheeler, a runner-up for the District 2 County Commission seat who narrowly missed forcing a runoff.

Wheeler, a conservative businessman running for office for the first time, had asked the party this week to scrutinize absentee ballots cast in favor of Tillman M. Pugh, the incumbent who won just more than half the vote. Wheeler had said he wanted to ensure no errors were committed in the tallying of the votes.

His statement of election contest also alleged a series of violations, but Republican officials said the claims were unwarranted.

“There’s just nothing there for us to ask for a recount or anything,” said Gary Head, chair of the Russell County Republican Executive Committee. “We simply did not have any evidence to answer his accusations.”

Wheeler declined to comment on the committee's decision.

Election workers took umbrage at Wheeler’s claim, insisting there were no irregularities at the Ladonia polling place.

“There was nothing illegal that went on out here,” said Deloria Braun, the precinct’s chief inspector. “We work very hard to make this a voting place that people enjoy coming to, but we want things to go by the book. That’s the first thing — to go by the book and keep things legal.”

Pugh learned of the committee’s decision this morning and said he hoped it would put the matter to rest.

“This is exactly what I expected because I’ve been involved in enough elections to know how they’re run,” Pugh said. “I’m happy it’s over with and I’m moving forward now.”