Mainstream Republicans scored a resounding victory Tuesday in their battle against religious conservatives for control of the party in Stevens County.
Among 42 precinct committee officer candidates on the mainstream slate, 36 were leading their races in final unofficial returns Wednesday, nine were trailing and one was tied.
“We lost big time,” said Chris Hoops, a leader of the party’s Christian right wing even though he is not a precinct officer. “I think only three of our guys won.”
Hoops was defeated 91-56 in his race against John Goldsmith for a Colville-area precinct committee officer position.
Even more significant, nearly all the religious right and ultra-conservative leaders who already had committee officer positions lost them.
“They purged us,” Hoops said, contending the party lost its most dedicated workers in the process.
Among those who were ousted are party treasurer Helen Duey, secretary Renea Martin, platform committee chairman Craig Cazenavette, and District 3 chairman Dan Eby.
Hoops said former party Chairman Wayne McMorris engineered the defeat by mailing postcards inviting Democrats to vote for mainstream Republican candidates.
“If only Republicans would have voted, we would have won,” Hoops said.
McMorris said he and other precinct officers mailed postcards to all registered voters except those known to be in the religious right camp. He said the cards didn’t target Democrats, but asked everyone to vote for mainstream Republican precinct committee officer candidates.
The other side sent postcards, too, McMorris said.
“I think what we’ve decided is that the Stevens County Republican Party doesn’t want us there,” Hoops said. “Personally, I’m leaving the party. I am going to work my darndest for the U.S. Taxpayer Party.”
He predicted “hundreds” will follow him. McMorris applauded the move, contending “thousands” of traditional Republicans will remain.
Absentee ballots will decide some of the precinct races when they are counted Nov. 19. Among the close races, McMorris is tied 63-63 with fellow Kettle Falls-area resident Robert Haynes, and party chairman Greg Simon holds a two-vote lead over former party chairman George Stahly.
In other Stevens County election results, voters approved creation of a rural library district, 6,109 to 3,319. County commissioners now will appoint a board of directors to set up the district. Commissioners also are authorized to levy a tax of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to support the library district.
In Ferry County, voters won’t know who will replace outgoing County Commissioner Ed Windsor until latearriving mail-in ballots are all counted next week. Republican Dennis Snook had only a 65-vote lead over Democrat Chris Kroupa with at least 700 ballots still uncounted.
Until all the ballots are counted, Ferry County voters also can’t be sure that incumbent Commissioner Gary Kohler was re-elected. Kohler, a Democrat, has a tentative 1,106-to891 advantage over Republican challenger David Schumacher.
With about 500 ballots still uncounted in Pend Oreille County, incumbent County Commissioner Mike Hanson’s 121-vote lead over Democratic challenger Sandi Lewis also could be reversed.
Absentee ballots also will decide a controversial race for one of two positions on the board of the Pend Oreille County Public Utility District. One of two challengers who oppose a planned high-voltage power line appears to have been elected. Dan Peterson ousted incumbent Robert Kress, 2,074 to 1,490, but challenger Helen Keane is trailing incumbent Robert Johnson by 73 votes, 1,928 to 1,855.