If you would have told me that only one GOP candidate for a county executive office would win last night, and it would be Steve Farmer for Public Administrator, I would have been like “no way!” Not that I have anything against Farmer; it just seemed like incumbent Democrat Bruce King had the best claim to re-election of all countywide officeholders. He had endorsements from a many area nursing homes, and was always successful when his office was audited. On top of that, few really know what the job entails (the Public Administrator’s Office is responsible for decisions regarding placement, medical consents, educational/habilitation plans, finances and the general health and safety of each person, or ward, whose care is entrusted to this office by the Probate Court), which I would think would reduce voters’ desire for a change there. But Farmer pulled it out by the narrowest of margins:
To do the math for you, that’s 1,349 votes out of over 90,000 cast.
I didn’t have any in-person interaction with the two candidates’ campaigns, so I don’t know who did the most door-knocking or anything like that. But I know that Farmer had a foot in both local GOP camps: he has been a leader of the Jefferson County Tea Party, and he was supported by the JeffCo Leadership PAC, which is more aligned with the mainstream wing of the party. That had to help him get over the hump that Ken Horton, another Tea Party leader, could not overcome in the race for county treasurer, which he lost by 1,610 votes to another incumbent.
In other countwide races, Sheriff Boyer won 57-42 over Dan Stallman. With 54,407 votes, he outpolled any other contested candidate (i.e., not the unopposed judges) in the county, including Mitt Romney and Jay Nixon. Terry Roesch won a full term as assessor by a 52-48 margin.
Besides the close nature of many of these races, the other lesson from yesterday here in the county seems to be that we give the benefit of the doubt to incumbents. At the state and local level, our tendency seemed to be to stay with the people in power; Democrats in the executive offices, Republicans on the county council. If you’re going to win an election here as a challenger, you have to present a compelling reason why you should take the other guy’s place.