LUMBERTON — Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey will face Randy Hammonds in November’s General Election after easily defeating challenger Lennis Watts in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. It was Sealey’s second primary win over Watts, but this time the margin was much wider.
Sealey received 9,466 votes, about 64.3 percent. Watts, a former county commissioner, received 35.7 percent of the votes with 5,249 cast in his favor.
There are 53,059 registered Democrats and 12,718 unaffiliated voters, meaning about 22 percent of them cast ballots in the sheriff’s race.
The incumbent sheriff won all but seven precincts in the race. He had an early start with 2,631 ballots cast in his favor during the early voting period, compared with 1,598 cast for Watts. Sealey won 54 percent of the vote when he and Watts squared off in the 2010 primary.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Sealey were unsuccessful.
Sealey has worked with the Sheriff’s Office since 1974, including as a deputy, detective, lieutenant of the Juvenile Task Force and captain. He was elected sheriff in 2005.
Sealey has said his values, commitment, accountability and decision-making abilities made him the most qualified for the job.
Hammonds said his experience as troop commander with the state Highway Patrol makes him a suitable challenger.
“I just think I offer something to the county from a business model that can move us into a new era of professional policing at the Sheriff’s Department,” Hammonds said.
Hammonds, who was uncontested for the Republican nomination, worked with the Highway Patrol for 30 years. He retired from the Highway Patrol in 2007 after overseeing 285 employees in Troop B, which encompasses 11 counties, including Robeson.
Hammonds said he is confident going up against Sealey.
“It’s a little early to tell but I wouldn’t have gotten in the race if I didn’t feel I was a strong, viable candidate… and certainly I have a lot of confidence in my ability to lead,” he said.