Mathes: I will ‘fight for the job I love’
“I can fight for the job I love. I have a right to do that and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Those were Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes’ words, explaining his decision to run a write-in campaign after losing the Republican primary.
Mathes confirmed he is in fact running a write-in campaign to remain sheriff. He said that the largest contributing factor to his decision has been the “tremendous outpouring of support” he has experienced since losing the primary election.
“After the election I had every intention of moving on, but I am extremely humbled by the folks that still want me here,” Mathes said. “I was prepared emotionally the other night when I lost and I accepted that.”
Despite his preparation to move on with his life following the election, Mathes said that once the outpouring of support started it soon grew to a level that he could not turn away from.
“I wouldn’t even guess at the number of calls, text messages, visits, cards, and e-mails I have received,” he said. “As a public servant I can’t ignore that. I have given it a lot of time and I have given it a tremendous amount of prayer.”
Mathes said he has been “very humbled” by the response he has received from people asking him to reconsider and run as a write-in candidate.
While he said the outpouring of support was the biggest contributing factor to his decision, Mathes said he also relied heavily on his faith and the support of his family and close friends.
Mathes said that he spent several nights in prayer asking for guidance on the issue. He also sought advice from his father, who he said told him “you can either hand the office over or you can fight for it.”
The sheriff said he took his father’s words to heart, and along with the outpouring of support and his time spent in prayer, he reached the decision to fight for the job he loves.
When asked what he would say to those who would criticize him and point out his promise to not run a write-in campaigning, Mathes said “I hope that people would be compassionate and understanding that during the emotional loss of a job that I love that I didn’t give it much thought at that moment.
“Sure I regret making that statement without giving it more consideration,” Mathes said regarding his statements that he was “a man of his word” and that he would not run a write-in campaign to seek re-election.
Mathes said of his change of heart that like every citizen he has a right to change his mind.
“Just like someone buys a Chevrolet and decides to switch over to Ford. The same right that Brett Favre had to come out of retirement and go back and play in the NFL. The same right that a parent decides to take a kid out of one school and put them in another school. The same rule allows for a write-in vote,” Mathes said. “At the end of the day, according to the rules, I have a right to change my mind and I did.”
Mathes stated that he is also prepared to answer critics who will want to point out that he previously made negative comments about write-in campaigns. When Mathes won the Republican primary for sheriff in 2006, the incumbent sheriff John Henson launched a write-in campaign to reclaim the office.
“I’ve seen write-ins in the past and I’ve been negative about write-ins in the past,” said Mathes, adding that he still has mixed feelings about such campaigns.“I still don’t like them. It’s not that I’m against a write-in campaign, because I can’t say that, because I understand in close elections.”
Mathes said he feels his write-in campaign is different because of the margin of votes. During this year’s primary the nomination came down a narrow margin of 68 votes. In 2006 when Henson launched his write-in campaign he had lost to Mathes by a margin of more than 2,800 votes.
“(A write-in campaign) is tougher and I understand if there are some people who don’t (support them). The one thing I can say is the vast amount of people that have convinced me otherwise, that they believe in it. So if they’re going to believe I’m going to believe,” he said. “I guess when the rubber meets the road we will find out on August 5th how many of them were sincere, how many of them came out and voted and whether they want me to remain sheriff or not.”