Middleton wins Democratic primary

Published 8:22 pm Tuesday, May 6, 2008

NATCHEZ — Jake Middleton defeated incumbent Mayor Phillip West with 52.5 percent of the vote Tuesday night, according to unofficial results.

Middleton brought in 2,528 votes versus West’s 2,285 votes.

West had 47.5 percent of the votes.

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Absentee and affidavit ballots have not been counted yet, but Middleton said he feels he is leading by a wide enough margin that once the additional votes are tallied, they probably won’t alter his lead.

Middleton said he believes those paper ballots will be more than likely split evenly between him and West.

But West isn’t making up his mind yet.

“I’m not optimistic or pessimistic,” he said. “I’m just going to wait to see the end results.”

Middleton said he believes the race was a clean one, as he and West have been friends for a long time.

“Phillip and I have been friends for 35 years,” Middleton said. “I think we both have an amount of respect for each other. We’ve never had a cross word.”

West said he did not think the race was clean.

“It was a race filled with distortion and deceit,” he said, referring to information that was put out.

West said he did not want to expand on his comment.

Middleton said the race between he and West was challenging.

“This was a tough battle,” he said. “Phillip is a very competitive person, he knows what it takes to win, I know what it takes to win.”

“Unfortunately only one of us can win.”

Middleton said he has nothing but respect for West.

Middleton said he is thankful for his support, from both the voters and his campaign team.

“This has probably been the best campaign of the six campaigns I’ve ever run,” Middleton said. “I’ve had so much support.”

“If I had to do it over again I wouldn’t change a thing, I really wouldn’t.”

Middleton said his campaign has been developing for two years now.

“I was always thinking about what was the best way to run the city,” he said.

And that way is open and honest, he said.

“That’s the only way I know how to do business,” he said. “The cards have always been on the table face up.”

Middleton said he and his campaign team are going to take today off but then jump right back into campaign mode on Thursday.

“I’m hoping to build more support before the June 3 general election,” he said. “I hope to gain support and get stronger as we go.”

Middleton said he thinks the voters understand the kind of person he is and the kind of mayor he could be.

“I think a lot of people who know me and how hard I worked for the city understand I’m not in this for the money but for the love of Natchez, bottom line,” Middleton said. “I’m not the smartest guy but I promise I’ll be a good mayor.”

West said he is thankful for the support he received from his voters and campaign team members.

West said he was not bowled over by the results.

“I was not shocked, but I was surprised,” he said.

If his lead holds through the paper vote counting, Middleton, who has served on the board of aldermen for 16 years, will face Chick Graning, who is running Independent, in the general election on June 3.