As the sun set over Pulaski County Tuesday evening, the crowd at County Judge-executive Darrell BeShears’ campaign headquarters began to thin.

With hugs, handshakes, and tears, stunned supporters said their good-byes to the veteran county official after a disappointing evening.

A mile down the road, at Barty Bullock’s campaign headquarters, there were more hugs and handshakes... this time congratulating the businessman-turned-candidate on his victory over his opponents — BeShears and Bert Minton.

Bullock raked in more than 48 percent of the votes cast in the county’s race for judge-executive. A total of 6,486 voters expressed their wishes for a new leader in Bullock, while 5,212 votes were cast in favor of the incumbent BeShears. Minton trailed with 1,746 votes.

Judge BeShears — who will remain in office until the end of 2006 — kept his chin up in spite of his defeat.

“I’ve been through this before,” he said last night.

“This is my sixth race. I won four and lost two. ... They chose me four times. I can’t be mad at the people.”

The Faubush-reared Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran was disheartened over the fact that such a low percentage of the population turned out to vote yesterday.

“I don’t understand the low turnout,” he said.

BeShears said he appreciates his supporters.

“It was a good, clean race, and the people decided who they wanted,” he said.

“(The county judge’s position is) a tough office — a tough job and a big job. Apparently it’s hard to hold it more than two terms. ... I’ve been doing it for 16 years, and I think I know how to do it, but the people apparently don’t think I do it well enough.”

BeShears declined to say whether he would attempt to run for the office again in the future.

“My time is up in January, and I’ll move on,” he said.

“We’ll keep everything going for the next seven months.”

Bullock says he’ll be spending the next seven months compiling his staff and preparing to take office.

“I look forward to getting there, and look forward to working with the employees of the county in all the departments,” he said last night.

Bullock said yesterday had been “the longest day I’ve ever spent, but it’s been a good day.”

His campaign headquarters was packed with well-wishers last night, and he said he had received many encouraging phone calls throughout the day.

While more than a few Pulaski Countians were shocked that the former school board member and business owner defeated the longtime judge, Bullock himself was not surprised.

“I expected to win,” he said.

“First and foremost, I am thankful to God. He put me here. I knew from day one that God wanted me to do this.”

He also believes God helped his campaign through PAW PAC — the People for Animal Welfare Political Action Committee, an organization which promotes the election of candidates who are committed to the well-being of animals.

“The PAW PAC group brought their support to me,” Bullock explained.

“God led them to do that. I didn’t ask them for their support.”

Bullock said he is glad to know the people of Pulaski County “want to take a new direction.”

“I’ve enjoyed this campaign a lot. I’ve made new friends all over the county,” he said.

“There are lots of good people out there. I’m proud of my supporters.”

He said he was grateful to his family, his fellow church members, the local media, and those who worked in his campaign efforts.

“The other candidates have treated me with respect, and I appreciate that,” he added.

Bullock, a Republican, has been associated with Bullock Egg Farm in the Jacksonville community and is the former owner of Dave’s Market in Eubank and Valley View Supermarket in Science Hill. He currently owns Fairway Auto Sales in Somerset. He is a former member and chairman of the Pulaski County Board of Education. He is a member of Jacksonville Baptist Church, and he sings with the Happy Travelers Quartet.

In previous interviews, he has promised to treat county employees in a fair manner, to have an open door policy in the judge-executive’s office, and to work hard to recruit new businesses and improve existing businesses.

Since there is no Democrat nominee for the office of county judge-executive, Bullock is guaranteed the position and will not be included on the November general election ballot.

Recommended for you