With all precincts reporting, Weatherford received a total of 9,523 votes, or 62 percent, while Byrne received 5,960 votes, or 38 percent.
In total, 15,483 voters cast their ballots in the race.
Janine Eveler, director of the Cobb Board of Elections, said there are 102,730 active voters registered in District 1.
Weatherford will now face Democrat Derrick Crump in November’s general election, although pundits predict the race has been decided due to the Republican stronghold in northwest Cobb.
Byrne and Weatherford have jousted for the District 1 seat occupied by retiring Commissioner Helen Goreham, since edging out three other candidates in the May 20 primary.
Weatherford, a former Acworth alderman, said “a lot of hard work” contributed most to his runoff victory.
“We made over 8,000 phone calls, sent over 2,000 letters and we must have participated in over 100 events,” Weatherford said.
He said “getting the story out” was one of his campaign’s greatest efforts.
“I worked hard and I’ve done everything I can,” Weatherford said.
Byrne said Weatherford didn’t run the race on his own merits.
“This was not an issue-based campaign,” Byrne said. “My opponent — not only in the primary but in the runoff — never focused on the issues. It was literally always about Bill Byrne’s past, and nothing about his future.”
Weatherford hammered Byrne’s record, saying for example that he should have found a way to avoid an “anti-gay” resolution the county passed in 1993.
Angela Barner, an Acworth real estate broker, took third in the primary, followed by Scott Tucker, a retired fire marshal and assistant fire chief who lives in Kennesaw and Glenn Melson, who owns an insurance firm.
The contentious runoff that followed put Weatherford’s ties to the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s leadership and Byrne’s record in office in the public spotlight.
Weatherford stuck by his association with such influential leaders as Cobb chamber CEO David Connell and chamber Chairman Ben Mathis, saying he was “proud” to have their backing throughout the campaign. He was also backed by all six Cobb mayors and Goreham.
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews and Councilman Tim Killingsworth were among a group of Weatherford’s supporters who gathered on the second floor of the Earl Smith Strand Theatre on Marietta Square to watch the returns Tuesday evening.
“I’m proud to have their support and I’m proud to support them,” Weatherford said of the chamber. “I think it’s a great thing. They didn’t buy anything from me, they just supported me. I will do what’s best for all the citizens of Cobb County.”
Weatherford declared victory over Byrne shortly after 9:30 p.m.
Surrounded by friends and family, Byrne watched early returns roll in from the top floor of Shillings restaurant.
“Being realistic, those are hard numbers to turn around,” Byrne said.
“In the political arena, there’s only one winner. We thank them,” he said of his supporters. “Tomorrow morning, regardless of the outcome, they’ll still be good close friends and supporters, and tomorrow, we start over.”
While Byrne said his campaign was able to keep pace with Weatherford’s campaign contributions, he noted Weatherford’s supporters piled on additional funds to send out a series of negative mailers or “slick sheets.”
“I would say close to 75 percent of Weatherford’s campaign funds came from either chamber members or related chamber business people. We matched it,” Byrne said. “Where we were outspent was the money spent on the slick sheets, and that was in the thousands of dollars.”
The mailers focused on two alleged missteps from Byrne’s decade-long tenure as chairman.
“I think that kind of campaigning at a local level turns more people off than on,” Byrne said of the slick sheets.
Weatherford spent 12 years on the Acworth Board of Aldermen before announcing his resignation in February and entering the district commissioner primary field.
He spent eight years in the Acworth Police Department prior to his election to the city’s governing body.
Public safety topped the list of issues he emphasized during throughout the campaign.
Crump said he didn’t perceive either candidate as more difficult to face than the other.
“I think they are both two candidates who are concerned with Cobb County, as they should be, as I am as well,” Crump said. “Each of them has history here in Cobb.”