With 37 precincts of 38 reporting, Parker captured 34.76 percent of the vote, compared to Nelson with 27.45 and 26.61 for Kevin Blackwell. Mike Smith received 11.57 percent of the vote.
Parker, a political newcomer, literally came out of nowhere to amass a 2,000-vote margin over Nelson, his nearest challenger. Parker’s lead was even greater over Blackwell.
In unofficial returns, Parker and Nelson, both Republicans, polled 9,697 votes compared to 7,696 for Nelson.
“We’re very happy,” Parker said after putting out “thank you” signs well after midnight Wednesday morning. “It’s a lot of hard work to make it happen. I want to congratulate my campaign managers for all the things they’ve done to get us to this point. We’ve assembled a good team and a good plan.”
For his part, Blackwell sounded a conciliatory tone.
“I had a real grass roots effort,” Blackwell said. “I had no paid staff. My contributors came from real people not from corporations or PACs. I’m very pleased with all of the support I’ve had. All three of the other candidates have run a great race.”