In a county with an overwhelming majority of a single political party, primary elections can take on the feel and energy of a general election, and in Elbert County, passions ran high leading to the Republican primaries on June 28.
Though the results will not be official until July 7, the preliminary vote in the primaries have been tabulated, and the largest margin to come out of the election came at the expense of incumbent Tim Dore in the Republican primary for House District 64.
Challenger Kimmi Lewis defeated the two-term representative with just over 68 percent of the 10,667 votes cast in the nine counties making up the district. Though Lewis' margin of victory in Elbert County was smaller than the district at large, she still received 2,445 votes (59.3 percent) compared with Dore's tally of 1,679 (40.7 percent).
“The good people of HD 64 have spoken and they want true grassroots, citizen-focused conservative leadership in the Colorado State House,” Lewis wrote in a statement to Elbert County News. “I am so pleased to have that duty given to me as we move forward to that goal. It will be my honor to fight for our local communities and agricultural lands in HD 64 and ensure that the federal or state governments don't infringe on our constitutional rights.”
Lewis also thanked her supporters and the volunteers throughout the 64 district
“My campaign was primarily funded by myself and the constituents of HD 64 who donated over $28,000. I am so appreciative of these generous donations from the people of this district but quite humbled as well," she wrote.
Democratic Party candidate Kathleen J. Conway, who was running unopposed, received her party's nomination and will face Lewis in the general election this fall.
In the District I Republican primary for Elbert County commissioner, Chris Richardson easily defeated Jim Whistler by a ratio of 58 to 43. Richardson is also a member of the Elizabeth Board of Education and will face Marie Soderberg, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
The vote was much closer in the Republican primary for the District III county commissioner race. Grant Thayer narrowly defeated Scott Wills. As of June 29, the unofficial tally showed Thayer edging out Wills, the former Elbert County Republican Party Central Committee chair, by 97 votes.
According to Election Manager Rhonda Braun, the margin is not close enough to trigger a recount, but the county typically holds back around 90 ballots to mix with absentee ballots received between June 29 and July 6.
The absentee ballots are typically sent to voters such as military personnel serving overseas, and when received, they are mixed with the retained ballots to maintain voter privacy. The ballots are then used by the official canvass on July 7 to confirm the accuracy of voting machines and certify the election. The tally of these ballots is added to the vote totals.
Though there may be a slim hope for the Wills campaign, in all likelihood Thayer will face Democrat Barbara Miller in November.
In the five-way race for Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, Darryl Glenn won the party's nomination statewide and dominated the vote in Elbert County with 43.8 percent of the vote. With a Republican majority in the Senate in play, Glenn's bid to unseat Michael Bennet in November is likely to have national implications.