In the Benewah County sheriff’s race, incumbent Rodney Thormahlen faced a possible upset from challenger Joe Blackburn, a Republican.
Early returns Tuesday showed Blackburn, a retired conservation officer, forging ahead with 408 votes, while Thormahlen trailed with 302 votes. Edgar Ashton, an independent and retired jailer, was out of the race with only 19 votes.
In the county commissioner’s race, 22-year incumbent Jack Buell, who owns the trucking company of the same name, appeared to be easily defeating his first-ever challenger in an election.
That challenger, Republican Terry Duffey, had just 153 votes, while Buell had 559. Duffey owns KOFE radio station and the Paddlewheel Pizza restaurants in St. Maries and Plummer. His early vote tally lagged that of a third candidate, Rex Smith. Smith attracted 258 votes, even though he had dropped out of the race.
Vying for the other commissioner seat vacated by George Mills Jr. were Democrat Dave Johnson and Republican Jack Denny.
Early returns indicated that Johnson, a builder of logging roads, was in the lead, with 452 votes to Denny’s 238.
Prosecutor candidate Douglas Paul Payne was unopposed.