SANDPOINT — Republican voters displayed strong support for Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, but showed two county commissioners the door on Tuesday.
Wheeler, the only county incumbent to successfully emerge from the primary, fended off Ponderay Police officer Tim Fry’s bid for the GOP nomination. Wheeler finished the primary with 3,934 votes compared to Fry’s 1,427 votes.
The third candidate in the primary race for sheriff, white supremacist Shaun Winkler, managed to amass a frightening 182 votes.
Wheeler advances to the Nov. 6 general election, where he is being challenged by former Deputy Rocky Jordan, who’s running as a Constitutionalist.
“I’m feeling pretty darn good today,” Wheeler said on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
Wheeler said he wants to continue making improvements to the department.
“We’re going to continue to make adjustments and try to be more efficient and provide a better service to our constituents,” he said.
Republican voters turned incumbent commissioners Lewie Rich and Cornel Rasor out of office in a pair of neck-and-neck races that went down to the wire.
Former Senator Joyce Broadsword narrowly edged Rasor by a 113-vote margin to clinch the GOP nod for the District 1 seat on the county commission. She faces independent Steve Johnson in the general election.
“I’m hopeful that I can make a difference and I’m very pleased that the voters have enough confidence to give me a chance,” said Broadsword, who could be the first born-and-raised Bonner County resident to hold a seat on the commission in more than a decade.
Broadsword said she’s already been approached by a number of county employees who are weary of “walking on eggshells” at the Bonner County Administration Building.
“They felt I brought a different perspective,” she said.
Rasor was gracious despite the defeat. He called to congratulate Broadsword after her win and offered to help her transition onto the board if she prevails in the general election.
Rasor is not ruling out continuing his political career.
“I’ll worry about that in January, but right now I’m still owned by the county 24/7,” said Rasor, adding that there’s plenty to be done in the next seven months.
Rich lost his re-election bid to former sheriff’s marine patrol supervisor Cary Kelly, who won the contest by 359 votes. Tea party-backed candidate Sage Dixon collected 938 votes.
Kelly is ultimately the presumptive winner of the District 3 race because he has no challenger in the general election.
“I feel confident about the November election,” said Kelly, cracking wise.
Kelly hopes to curb some of the internal strife on the commission, which he views as poor use of energy and resources.
“Initially, what I’m really going to do is set a different tone as far as cooperation, coordination and communication goes,” he said.