With Jimmie Smith leading Wayman Newell by only 14 votes at midnight, before the counting of absentee votes, Lauderdale County’s District 2 Supervisor candidates, and their constituents, had a long night.

At the Lauderdale County circuit clerk’s office Tuesday night all eyes were on the big red bag.

That’s what precinct managers used to carry votes from the polls to the courthouse to be tallied. With 19 of 19 precincts reporting (not counting the absentee votes), Smith had 1,418 votes to Newell’s 1,404.

In a race that nearly mirrored the vote between the two men four years ago, a winner was not determined by midnight.

A gaggle of nervous candidates and their supporters crammed themselves into the office Tuesday night, anxiously awaiting the final results of the election. Two phrases were repeated over and over by candidates and their wives: “I’m nervous” and “I’m tired.”

Newell, challenger to long-time District 2 Supervisor Smith, spent most of the night hunched over his yellow legal pad, ear glued to his cell phone, trying to make sense of the differences between the results shown on television and those shown on periodic reports released by the circuit clerk’s office.

Newell and his wife were at the courthouse the moment the polls closed, and began the evening with smiles, high-fives, and excited chatter.

“I’m nervous, real nervous,” Newell said early in the evening, “but once (the key precincts) come in, I’ll be confident.” He then puts an arm around his daughter, Stephanie, and proclaimed, “I wanna get ... more jobs for our children.”

“It’s not over yet; it’s still up in the air,” Smith said, shortly before midnight as he carried the lead by 14 votes against Newell, his Republican challenger.

Smith, a Democrat, waited patiently in a corner at the circuit clerk’s office as election results came in.

“It’s going to be close; it is close,” Smith said.

As the last few ballot boxes were being tallied by workers, several candidates as well as supporters and media representatives waited as election summary reports were handed out about every 15 minutes.

Earlier in the evening, across town at the Quality Inn, supporters of incumbent State Rep. Charles L. Young, Smith and Terrell “Twin” Thompson Sr., who was seeking the Constable 1 post, watched the election results on television.

As the night wore on back at the courthouse the excitement and chatter that had earlier filled the air slowly eased into a dull murmur. At 10 p.m., the circuit clerk’s office was still far from releasing the final results.

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