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Primary carries weight

By Staff | Jun 4, 2010

This Tuesday’s June 8 Pierce County Primary features four contested races – sheriff and District One, Three and Five commission seats – and regardless of the outcome all eight candidates will advance to run in the general election in November.

However, if you think this week’s primary doesn’t mean much, think again.

The last 10 primary elections, dating back to 1990, have featured 23 contested races for county offices – mostly for commissioner seats and sheriff.

Of those 23 races, just five times has the runner-up candidate in the primary gone on to win the November general election. And in all five of those cases, the primary vote margin between the two candidates was close.

No question this week’s primary carries big implications for the candidates in contested elections.

That’s not surprising judging by the interest already in one of those races – the sheriff election.

Campaign signs for both candidates – Matt Lunde and Kelly Keller are visible throughout the county.

“Both elections (the primary and general) are equally important,’ said Matt Lunde, sheriff. “It’s important to get your name out there early and talk with the people.”

Keller, who has run for sheriff the past two elections, also understands the significance of the primary which provides an early indication of the level of support from voters.

Of course, candidates will continue to campaign over the next several months, explaining their goals and what experience and skills they will bring to the office.

And although a win at the June Primary is a feather in their cap, it doesn’t guarantee victory in November. Runner-up candidates in the primary can take solace in knowing that history has proven that an upset at the general election is possible. It just may require some more campaigning in the months preceding the general election to win over voters.

Three county commission seats are up this year, and as mentioned, all three are being contested.

In District One, incumbent Joe Bohl is being challenged by Dave Engeland. Bohl is seeking a second term while Engeland is bidding to return to the commission. He served from 1994 to 2002. Both will advance to the general election. District One centers on the northeast portion of the county, including the Wolford area.

In District Three, incumbent Richard Vetsch is running against Rick Larson. Vetsch has served since 2000. Larson is running for the first time. District Three is in the city of Rugby.

In District Five, it’s a rematch of the 2006 election. Incumbent David Migler is challenged again by Ronald Grossman. Migler is seeking a third term.

District Five is by far the largest of the five districts, spanning 30 townships, several organized.f

For the fourth election in a row, the sheriff’s election is being contested.

Sheriff Matt Lunde, who was appointed to the post late last year, is running against Kelly Keller.

Both candidates at one time served as deputy sheriff’s in Pierce County. Lunde is filling out the final year of the term of Robert Graber, who retired at the end of 2009.

Keller is making his third bid for the sheriff’s position. He ran in 2002 and again in 2006. He is currently a deputy sheriff in Oliver County.

There are a few other county offices up for election this year and all current office holders are running unopposed. They are: Galen Mack (states attorney); Carla Marks (clerk of court); and Lori Miron (county recorder).

Voters will also be asked to select a Soil Conservation District Supervisor. David M. Anderson is running unchallenged.

The Pierce County Tribune is also on the ballot for official county newspaper.

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