Races set, one too close to call

Only seven votes separate incumbent Allen County Commissioner Bruce Symes from challenger John Brocker, with 40 provisional ballots left to count next Tuesday.

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August 5, 2020 - 10:31 AM

With a handful of races decided in Tuesday’s primary election, one remains up in the air.

As it stands, Allen County Commissioner Bruce Symes holds a seven-vote lead over challenger John Brocker in his re-election bid.

According to unofficial election results compiled by the Allen County Clerk’s office, Symes received 347 votes, compared to Brocker’s 340.

Bruce Symes
John Brocker

The election won’t be certified until next Tuesday, when county commissioners — Symes included — determine the validity of 40 provisional ballots that were cast on or before Election Day.

A provisional ballot is one that’s cast when a voter’s name does not match what’s listed on the voter rolls. 

It’s not immediately known how many of the provisional ballots are from voters within Allen County Member District 3 — Symes’ seat — which covers all but the northeast quadrant of Iola.

Additionally, mail-in ballots will still be counted as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday and are delivered to the county clerk by the end of the week, County Clerk Sherrie Riebel said.

AS FOR the other contested County Commission race, David Lee won in a three-way race over Craig Mentzer and Gene Weatherbie.

David Lee

Lee, who previously served as a  USD 257 school board member, Allen Community College trustee and LaHarpe City Councilman, brought in 491 votes, 124 more than did Mentzer to earn the Republican nomination. Weatherbie received 114 votes.

“I’d like to let the people of District 2 know how much I appreciate their taking time to cast their vote,” Lee said. “It was a tough decision with three very worthy candidates to select from. I’m glad I didn’t have to make that choice.

“Secondly, it was a wonderful experience for me as I traveled around the Second District   I had the great opportunity to visit with and listen to the concerns of those who live in the District’s boundaries. I look forward to my continued visits with those I didn’t have an opportunity to in the last many weeks.”

Once the election is certified, Lee will advance to the November general election to take on Democrat Michelle Meiwes. The Symes-Brocker winner will have no Democratic opposition in November.

THERE WAS markedly less drama in the other local races.

Bryan Murphy

Allen County Sheriff Bryan Murphy cruised to his Republican primary win against challenger, County Commissioner Jerry Daniels. Murphy received 67 percent of the vote (1,582 to 783).

“I am both humbled and honored the citizens of Allen County have reaffirmed their faith in me,” Murphy said afterward, thanking the voters’ support “not just for me, but for the men and women of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Allen County citizens.”

Likewise, Allen Countians overwhelmingly supported renewal of a quarter-cent sales tax to fund ongoing operations at Allen County Regional Hospital, by more than 2-to-1 margin, 1,906 votes to 877.

Even more convincing was Rep. Kent Thompson’s primary win over challenger Armando Hernandez. Thompson outpolled Hernandez 1,927 to 256, a 6-to-1 margin. Thompson will face Humboldt’s Alana Cloutier, Democrat, in November in his bid to retain his Kansas House seat.

ALLEN County’s tally contrasted the statewide results for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. While the rest of the state’s Republicans favored Congressman Roger Marshall over former Secretary of State Kris Kobach to replace the retiring Pat Roberts, Allen Countians favored Kobach over Marshall, 697 votes to 461.

Marshall advances to take on Barbara Bollier, a former Republican who switched parties to run as a Democrat for the Senate seat.

The county also favored State Treasurer Jake LaTurner over incumbent Steve Watkins in a U.S. House of Representatives race, as the rest of the Congressional district did. 

LaTurner will face Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, Democrat, in November.

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