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Police chief to face sheriff in fall vote

| June 9, 2006 12:00 AM

Libby chief of police Clay Coker defeated former probation officer Rick Morrow by a nearly 2-to-1 margin Tuesday to take the Republican nomination for Lincoln County sheriff.

Coker drew 1,222 votes to Morrow's 645, a margin of 65 to 34 percent. Coker will face incumbent Daryl Anderson in November. Anderson ran unopposed on the Democratic ballot and drew 1,383 votes.

Nine candidates were running for the part-time Eureka-based justice of the peace position, with the top two non-partisan candidates making it to the November ballot. Stormy Langston finished first with 668 votes, followed by Delora "Cookie" Haidle with 480. Linda Baldwin drew 411 votes, Ronald Duram 339, Susan Gillen 281, Janet Smith 225, Ernest Croteau 189, Brian See 118 and David Cavoretto 114.

Two candidates — incumbent Gary Hicks and challenger Craig Martin — were on the ballot for the full-time Libby-based justice position, and both will be on the ballot in November. Hicks drew 1,718 votes while Martin, a retired sheriff's detective, garnered 1,509.

In the Democratic race for county clerk and recorder, Tammy Lauer of Libby garnered 948 votes to the 466 for Nancy Wagner of Troy, a margin of 67 to 33 percent. Sharon ran unopposed on the Republican side and drew 1,585 votes.

The current clerk and recorder, Coral

Cummings, ran unopposed as Democratic candidate for Montana Senate District 1. She drew 1,437 votes and will face incumbent Republican Aubyn Curtiss, who drew 1,805 votes.

Ginny Emerson of Fortine defeated state Rep. Rick Maedje in the Republican primary for the District 2 county commissioner's seat. Emerson drew 1,003 votes to Maedje's 801, a margin of 55 to 44 percent. Maedje's chances may have been hampered by his arrest on May 23 on partner assault charges following an altercation with his live-in girlfriend. Emerson faces off in November against incumbent Democrat Marianne Roose, who ran unopposed on Tuesday and garnered 1,374 votes.

Two Democrats and two Republicans were vying for the opportunity to run for the District 2 state House seat being vacated by Maedje. On the Democratic side, Ken Utter outpolled Ray Jacobs 417 to 254, a margin of 62 to 38 percent. Both Utter and Jacobs are from Eureka. On the Republican ballot, Chas Vincent of Libby defeated Leslie Hollopeter Galassi of Fortine 688 to 223, a margin of 75 to 24 percent.

For House District 1, Republican incumbent Ralph Heinert ran unopposed and garnered 804 votes. Democrat Eileen Carney — who previously held the seat and was defeated by Heinert in 2004 — also ran unopposed and drew 812 votes.

Incumbent Democrat Geri Miller ran unopposed to receive the nomination for another term as county treasurer. She drew 1,395 votes. Nancy Trotter Sutton ran unopposed for the Republican nomination and drew 1,602 votes.

Several county officials will be unopposed in their bids for re-election in November. Democrat Bernie Cassidy drew 1,230 votes on the way to another term as county attorney. On the Republican side, Steve Schnackenberg drew 1,736 votes and will be unopposed in the November county coroner's race, and Ron Higgins garnered 1,606 votes en route to another term as superintendent of schools.

Local Democratic voters broke ranks with their counterparts across the state and cast 767 votes for John Morrison and 508 for John Tester in the race to determine the party's U.S. Senate candidate, a margin of 53 to 35 percent. Statewide, Morrison — who currently serves as state auditor — garnered only 36 percent of the vote while Tester — a farmer and state senator from Big Sandy — drew 60 percent. Other candidates on the Democratic ballot were Paul Richards with 75 votes in Lincoln County, Robert Candee with 60 and Kenneth Marcure with 44.

Tester will face incumbent Republican Conrad Burns in November. Statewide, Burns easily defeated nearest competitor Bob Keenan — a state senator from Bigfork — by a margin of 72 to 22 percent. Locally, Burns drew 1,517 votes to Keenan's 364, a margin of 75 to 18 percent. Also running as Republican candidates for the post were Bob Kelleher with 86 votes in Lincoln County and Daniel Lloyd Neste Huffman with 44.

Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg ran unopposed and drew 1,881 votes in Lincoln County. He will face Democrat Monica Lindeen, a state representative from Huntley, in November. Lindeen ran against Eric Jon Gunderson of Frenchtown, defeating him by a margin of 71 to 29 percent across the state. In Lincoln County, Lindeen drew 796 votes to Gunderson's 482, a margin of 62 to 38 percent.