Most locals will never get a say in who their next sheriff will be.
At Saturday's El Paso County Republican Assembly, delegates overwhelmingly picked Bill Elder for the office, leaving him the sole candidate standing.
The assembly selects local and statewide candidates to go on to a primary or general election, though candidates can also skip the process and petition onto the primary ballot. Assembly contenders needed to receive at least 30 percent of the vote from 1,136 delegates and alternates to stay in the race.
Those who earn between 10 percent and 30 percent can still petition onto the ballot, but with the election calendar tight this year, petitioning will be difficult for many seats. Daniel Cole, the local party's executive director, says no one is taking that route after failing at the assembly. All of which means Elder — who took 65 percent of the vote to Jim Reid's 20 percent and John Anderson's 15 percent — has all but wrapped up the election. No Democrat is currently running.
Cole acknowledges that delegates have "out-sized influence," but says he thinks the process is fair, especially since candidates can petition onto the ballot. While Reid said Monday that he "hadn't given much thought" to whether the caucus system is just, Anderson says he believes it gives too much weight to hardcore or single-issue voters.
"I think the caucus system is antiquated," he says, "and I think it's easy to see how it can be manipulated by a small group of people."
Elder, who couldn't be reached for comment, has been a controversial candidate. Sheriff Terry Maketa claimed a discipline file from Elder's time as a sheriff's office employee was stolen during the campaign; Elder says no such file ever existed. It was largely due to that issue that Anderson entered the race in February, and quickly tied up Maketa's endorsement.
Cole says that while the race was divisive, he's confident his party won't be mired in bad blood.
"I was reading earlier about how [Thomas] Jefferson called [John] Adams a hermaphrodite, and Adams questioned Jefferson's racial purity, and those two guys ended up being the best of friends and pen pals," he says. "So if there's hope for their relationship, there's certainly hope within the El Paso County Republican Party."
Elder wasn't the only one to walk out of the assembly with a win almost assured. El Paso County Clerk and Recorder candidate Charles Broerman beat out contender Patrick Carter 87 to 13 percent. Broerman, who is currently chief deputy clerk, doesn't have a challenger. Others never had any opponents, including county assessor candidate Steve Schleiker, coroner candidate Dr. Robert Bux and surveyor candidate Lawrence Burnett.
On the state level, incumbent Kent Lambert is currently unopposed in his bid for Senate District 9, as is Rep. Lois Landgraf in District 21 and Paul Lundeen in District 19.
Many local races remain competitive. (For a lineup of competitive House races, see Noted, here.) In County Commissioner District 1, Republican incumbent Darryl Glenn will face newly announced Democrat Tom Nieman. In District 5, Democrat Jariah Walker has been running an aggressive campaign against Republican incumbent Peggy Littleton. A third candidate, Republican Thomas Austin, failed to turn in petitions to be added to the ballot.
There will also be a race for county treasurer. Among three Republicans vying for the position, Duncan Bremer received 48 percent of the assembly vote, and Mark Lowderman got 30 percent, forcing a primary.