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Candidates making final push

By Staff
WATCHING John Robert Smith, his wife Kelly, and daughter Kennedy look over volunteer campaign chairman Rae Gordon's shoulder Tuesday as she posts vote counts. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
May 2, 2001
Incumbent Mayor John Robert Smith took a step Tuesday toward his third term in office with a resounding GOP primary win.
Complete but unofficial returns showed Smith defeated Republican challenger Wally Hudnall by a margin of slightly more than 2 to 1. Smith garnered 3,736 votes (68 percent) to Hudnall's 1,729 votes (32 percent). Smith carried all 15 city precincts.
As Smith was being congratulated by well wishers, the mood was less than celebratory at City Hall where Hudnall waited for returns to come in.
Hudnall said although losing was difficult he felt he ran a clean campaign and was proud of his effort. The mayoral race marked the former grocery store owner's first attempt at public office.
Tuesday's election saw an extremely low number of ballots cast, 5,465, or about a third of the city's registered voters.
Smith said at first the extremely low numbers were a little frightening.
Hudnall, who recently sold his interest in two grocery stores, said he would relax and recuperate from the election for several months.
After being greeted by supporters, Smith said he and his staff would enjoy Tuesday's victory for only a short time before hitting the campaign trail again in preparation for the general election on June 5.
Smith's campaign theme of "keeping the momentum going" has been one that focuses on progress made during his two terms in office. With a big victory in the primary, Smith now believes his campaign has good momentum heading into the general election.
Smith's three opponents in the general election will be Democrat William Hugh Johnson and independents Bill McBride and Charlie Haynes.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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