Republicans win big in Montezuma County and Colorado; some surprises in Utah
Republicans swept the field in Montezuma County races Nov. 4, reflecting what appeared to be a national trend, although GOP candidates are usually a good bet locally during any election cycle.
In the sheriff ’s race Steve Nowlin easily bested his write-in opponent Mike Steele, winning 74 percent of the final vote count with 6,241 votes. There were 2,198 write-in votes cast, but only 1,867 were for Steele, with some voters writing in other names, including that of incumbent Sheriff Dennis Spruell, according to Clerk Carol Tullis.
James Lambert also won handily over independent candidate Bill Utrup, even though some voters had expressed alarm over some of the statements made on Lambert’s religious website kingdomseekers.com. He garnered 62 percent of the votes to Utrup’s 38 percent.
Deputy County Clerk Kim Percell scored big in her race as well, getting the nod from 69 percent of the electorate over unaffiliated candidate Judy Marquez.
Tullis said the turnout was quite heavy for a midterm election, with 9,790 ballots being turned in during the all-mail election out of approximately 14,000 that were sent out. A stream of voters came to the clerk’s office on Nov. 4, many saying that they’d thrown away their mail ballot because they believed there would be an opportunity to vote at polling places. These had to apply for a new ballot and fill it out at the clerk’s office.
Incumbent county Treasurer Sherry Dyess, Assessor Scott Davis, Surveyor Ernie Maness, and Coroner George Deavers ran unopposed and were thus returned to office.
The incumbent representative for the Third Congressional District, Republican Scott Tipton, gained about 59 percent of the vote to coast to victory over his Democratic opponent, Abel Tapia.
In a race for state representative in District 59, which includes La Plata County, Republican J. Paul Brown held a narrow lead over Democratic Mike McLachlan at press time.
Statewide, Colorado voters ousted incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in favor of Republican Cory Gardner. The governor’s race between John Hickenlooper and Bob Beauprez was too close to call overnight, but by the morning after the voting, it appeared Hickenlooper, a Democrat, would hang on to his office.
Colorado voters soundly rejected three ballot questions – a proposed “personhood” amendment that was largely an anti-abortion measure; a proposed amendment to expand gaming by allowing horse racing; and a proposition to require the labeling of genetically modified foods.
The only measure that passed was a proposition requiring open meetings for collective- bargaining negotiations in schools.
In New Mexico, another senator named Udall fared better than Mark did in Colorado. Tom Udall, a Democrat, kept his seat, defeating Republican Allen Weh on a 55-45 margin.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, a rising star in the Republican party, easily kept her seat over challenger Gary King.
In San Juan County, just across the Colorado border, a fresh face was chosen for the county commission. Rebecca Benally won a heavily contested race in District 3, the Navajo district, receiving more than double the total of her opponents Manuel Morgan and the combined write in-candidates Kenneth Maryboy (the incumbent) and Roger Atcitty.
After her victory was announced in the clerk/recorder’s office, Benally issued a statement saying, “In our San Juan County, all things are possible. To those who may have had a different outlook and different ideas from our own for the county, I look forward to sitting down together, having a conversation on how we can move forward. Tonight has reflected that we truly do rise or fall together as one family and as one community.”
In another high-profile race, for county attorney, challenger Kendall Laws, a Democrat, won a stunning victory over 28-year incumbent Craig Halls with a 838-vote margin out of the 3920 votes cast by county-wide voters for the position.
Republican David Carpenter beat Tina Corrao by 120 votes to win the position of recorder, while John David Nielson, a Republican, defeated Dawn Shaw, 2309 to 1549 votes, in the clerk’s contest.
Challenger Shelby Seely, a Republican, ousted incumbent County Assessor Howard L. Randall by 400 votes.
The seat in San Juan County School Board District 4 was won by Elsie Dee over a write-in candidate, and Nelson Yellowman defeated Jean Holiday Nimrod by 120 votes in District 5.
An uncontested race returned Phil Lymon to the commission seat in District 2. In other uncontested races, Rick Eldridge won the sheriff ’s position, “Sam” Cantrell remained county surveyor, county treasurer was Glenis B. Pearson and the Utah State House District 73 seat was retained by Rep. Michael Noel.
According to James Francon, clerk/rcorder’s office manager, turnout for the general election was 63 percent. “We traditionally have good voter turnout. The mail-in ballot produced good results in the general election this year. The primary election this year was especially good, though, and that isn’t normally the case.”
Statewide, Republican Mia Love succeeded on her second try at becoming the first black Republican woman to win a congressional seat. She topped Democrat Doug Owens in Utah’s 4th District.
Pro-pot meaasures did well nationwide. While voters in Florida rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, Oregon approved a measure allowing the purchase of marijuana for recreational use, joining Colorado and Washington state in legalizing cannabis. At press time, a similar measure in Alaska was too close to call.
And in Washington, D.C., city residents gave a resounding yes vote to a measure that will allow people to possess up to 2 oz. of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants at home without legal penalties.
Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.