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Dunn County Sheriff wins August 12 primary at 56 percent

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith won the August 12 Democratic primary for sheriff against challenger Chris Kruse with 56 percent of the vote.

All together, the unofficial vote totals show that Sheriff Smith received 2,428 votes to 1,886 for Kruse.

Smith, who is a Colfax resident, has been sheriff for 14 years and has worked in law enforcement for 38 years.

Kruse, a rural Boyceville resident, is the Dunn County medical examiner. He has served as the chief medical examiner for Dunn County since 2001. He began serving as the chief deputy medical examiner in 1989.

Smith prevailed in the majority of precincts, although Kruse gathered more votes in the Towns of Hay River, Sand Creek, Sheridan, Spring Brook, Tiffany and the Village of Boyceville.

The Dunn County Sheriff’s Deputies AFSCME Local Union 727B took a vote of “no confidence” regarding Sheriff Smith on July 22 and endorsed Kruse as the candidate for sheriff.

On the day of the August 12 primary, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that problems with ballots in sheriff’s primaries had been occurring in Milwaukee County, Richland County and in Dunn County in which Republican voters had entered a Democratic sheriff candidate as a write-in on the Republican ballot.

In the August 12 primary, as per state law, voters could only vote on either the Democratic ballot or the Republican ballot.

Since state law prohibits voters from voting in both the Democratic and the Republican primary, the write-in votes on the Republican ballots do not count.

Julie Wathke, Dunn County clerk, said she had received a number of calls from municipal clerks and from county voters asking for clarification.

“Some Republican voters were not happy that they could not vote for a (Democratic) sheriff candidate (on the Republican ballot) but that’s the way the primary is set up,” Wathke said.

Wathke called the Government Accountability Board in Madison, and the GAB sent out a memo to municipal clerks in the state to clarify that the write-in votes on the opposite ballot would not count.

The Dunn County board of canvassers meets Tuesday, August 19, to certify the ballots, and the vote totals initially reported on the Dunn County clerk’s website under unofficial election results may change either because of write-in candidates or because of provisional ballots or absentee ballots, Wathke said.

No Republican candidates filed nomination papers in Dunn County for sheriff.

Dennis Smith will be the only candidate on the ballot in the November election for Dunn County Sheriff.

67th Assembly District

Gary Stene of Colfax was the only candidate in the state’s Assembly District 67 primary on the Democratic ballot.

In spite of not having a Democratic opponent, Stene gathered 1,091 votes.

Incumbent Representative Tom Larson of Colfax was the only candidate on the Republican ballot for the 67th Assembly District.

Larson received 408 votes.

The 67th Assembly District covers the Towns of Colfax, Elk Mound, Grant, Hay River, Otter Creek, Red Cedar, Sand Creek, Sheridan, Sherman, Spring Brook, Tainter and Wilson; the Villages of Colfax, Elk Mound, Ridgeland and Wheeler; and part of Barron and Chippewa Counties.

23rd Senate District

Incumbent state Senator Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls was the only candidate in the Republican primary for the 23rd Senate District.

Moulton received 403 votes.

Phil Swanhorst of Chippewa Falls was the only candidate on the Democratic ballot for the 23rd Senate District.

Swanhorst received 1,013 votes.

The 23rd Senate District covers the 67th, 68th and 69th Assembly Districts.