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Primary races coming into better focus

BY Spencer Durham - sdurham@chronicle-tribune.com

Primary election races became clearer on Friday as candidate filing officially closed at noon.

A few county races that will draw intrigue include the race between Republican candidates for Grant County Prosecutor, Jim Luttrull and Rodney Faulk. Though filing just closed, the race between the long-time incumbent Luttrull and Faulk, a former member of the prosecutor’s office, has drawn plenty of attention and public comment.

County Democrats will challenge for two county council seats as Terry Stodghill, Democratic county chairman, and Patricia Gibson have filed.

Stodghill admitted when filing opened in January that finding candidates to fill the ballot could be difficult. Faced with those challenges in majority “red” area, the county chairman said he was pleased with the number of candidates his party will have on the primary ballot.

“It was better than I thought we would do,” he said. “I’m happy with what we got.”

Stodghill said he was encouraged to have Democratic candidates vying for county council seats.

“By (possibly) putting in some new faces, maybe we can get something done,” he said, in regards to the challenges Grant County currently faces.

Stodghill said he was also pleased to have a few younger candidates on the ballot this year, such as Gibson, and Cathy Griffin for Center Township Trustee. As the base of the Democratic party grows older, the chairman said younger candidates are the future for his party.

“I’ve encouraged them to go 100 percent into their campaigns,” Stodghill said of Gibson and Griffin.”We need the young people.”

For Republican Chairman, Darren Reese, there was never a question of filling the ballot.

“We’re putting forward a strong ticket,” he said. “The party is strong and we’ve filled the ballot.”

Reese said there’s confidence within the party heading into the primary as well as general election. The chairman said the prosecutor and clerk of the circuit court races are two he is particularly tuned into.

“Both are important to good governments,” Reese said.

Republicans Pam Harris and Karen Wood will be on the ballot for clerk of court seat. Reese said he’s confident in both as each have held an office before.

Drama has surrounded the prosecutor race already as Faulk, a former deputy prosecutor, was fired just days after announcing his candidacy. Though Luttrull stated Faulk was fired due to a “personnel issue” that hasn’t stopped people from speculating and accusing foul play.

“I hope it’s run in a professional manner,” Reese said, adding that good things can come out of contested races.

In other notable races, Jim McWhirt is currently unopposed as he will run for county auditor. Reggie Nevels and Stephen Dorsey are also unopposed in the sheriff and coroner’s races, respectively.

At the state level, incumbent senators will receive plenty of competition from the Democratic Party, as well as their own.

Democrat Gary Snyder will go for the District 17 seat.

“He’s in 110 percent,” Stodghill said. “He can put up a pretty good challenge. We need a few more voices in the statehouse.”

District 19 Senator Travis Holdman will go up against fellow Republican Eric Orr. Democrat Christina Fivecoate will be on the primary for District 21.

State Representatives Kevin Mahan and Mike Karickhoff are currently unopposed.

At the national level, a number of Democrats look to challenge Rep. Susan Brooks in District 5. According to an unofficial candidate list by the Grant County Election Office, there are currently five Democratic candidates filed.

“That was very surprising that many stepped up,” Stodghill said. “That would be a good race to keep an eye on. I hope we get a good candidate...that can put up a good challenge against Susan Brooks.”

Though filing closed on Friday, candidates have until July 3 at noon to file a declaration of intent to be write-in candidate at the general election.