On Tuesday, Jim Davenport, a retired police officer who lives near Kenly, lost his write-in campaign for sheriff, 38,821-1,097. If an email to this newspaper and others is any indication, he blames the media for his pummeling at the polls.
In that email, sent before the election, Mr. Davenport complained that only the Kenly News had given his write-in campaign any ink. Missing from his missive was any indication that Mr. Davenport held himself at all accountable for his low campaign exposure. We think he should.
According to the Johnston County Board of Elections website, Mr. Davenport is a registered Democrat, meaning he could have filed for election as a candidate from that party. Doing so would have won him a place on the November ballot because no other Democrat filed for sheriff. And a spot on the ballot would have guaranteed Mr. Davenport media exposure in the fall as the election approached.
Instead Mr. Davenport chose to run without party affiliation, meaning he had to garner signatures from enough voters to have his name placed on the November ballot as an independent candidate. That effort apparently failed, so Mr. Davenport launched a write-in campaign.
Only he can say why he didn’t take the easy path to a place on the November ballot.
What we can say is that this newspaper gave Mr. Davenport more ink than it gave the incumbent sheriff, Steve Bizzell. In a March political roundup, we noted that Mr. Davenport planned to run for sheriff, and we laid out his campaign against Sheriff Bizzell. A month earlier, Mr. Bizzell’s reelection bid earned all of four words in this newspaper. In June, we published a 729-word letter from Mr. Davenport’s wife, a Johnston County native who touted her husband’s many qualifications for sheriff.
If Mr. Davenport thinks we played favorites with the sitting sheriff, he’s wrong. This newspaper’s opinion page has been no been fan of the longtime sheriff since he said disparaging things about Johnston County’s Hispanic population. As for news coverage, we treat candidates equally, which we think this year’s hopefuls for clerk of court, District Court judge, school board and state senator would confirm.
Mr. Davenport, meanwhile, dug himself a deep hole early on with his strategy for toppling the sitting sheriff, and for that, he has only himself to blame.