Created: Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:32:00 MST
Updated: Thu, 17 Jul 2014 07:22:49 MST
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Now that former Mesa County Sheriff candidate Steve King has announced his withdrawal from the race, the landscape of the election has changed dramatically. Many considered King a front-runner to be the next sheriff, but his departure has emboldened an array of unaffiliated and write-in candidates.
As of Wednesday, two unaffiliated candidates have successfully petitioned onto the ballot. Ralph Hamblin's and Patrick Arotin’s signatures have been verified by the Mesa County Elections Office. A third candidate petitioning onto the ballot, James Lange, is currently awaiting verification of his signatures from the Clerk and Recorder.
Write-in candidates Mike Harlow and Benita Phillips have both passed the necessary background checks to make their candidacy official. Thursday is the last day for any more write-in candidates to announce their intentions.
Since King’s departure, a committee from the Mesa County Republican’s office plan to choose his replacement on the ballot. Officials said they'll have their official candidate announced next Monday, but some names have already made their way to the surface.
“We have one person who has expressed interest,” said chair of the Mesa County Republicans Lois Dunn. “That's Matt Lewis. He's a deputy at the Sheriff's Office.”
With no known Republican candidate, this election could signify a shift in politics for Mesa County. Republicans have held the sheriff seat for more than two decades.