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Kootenai County power shifts in primary

Two of the three seats on the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners will be in new hands next year after one incumbent was defeated in Tuesday’s primary election and another chose not to run again.

Commissioner Todd Tondee was seeking a fourth term on the board but was soundly defeated in the Republican primary by Marc Eberlein, who took 52 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Tondee received just 33 percent of the vote, while Tim Herzog took 15 percent.

Eberlein will face Democratic nominee Bruce Noble in November’s election. Noble won Tuesday’s primary with 78 percent of the vote, with Tamra Dale II claiming 22 percent.

Jai Nelson, the other incumbent commissioner whose term is up this year, withdrew from the race. David Stewart was the lone GOP member on the primary ballot, and no Democrat filed for that seat.

In other Kootenai County races:

Clerk: Jim Brannon, appointed county clerk in December, easily won the Republican nod with 65 percent of the vote, versus 35 percent for Don Pischner. Democrats tapped Larry Belmont, former longtime director of Panhandle Health District, to run in the general election; he got for clerk with 72 percent of the vote over Alanna Brooks, a Ron Paul delegate in 2008, who had 28 percent.

Assessor: Republican incumbent Mike McDowell dominated in his re-election bid with 85 percent of the vote; real estate appraiser Patrick Galles trailed with 15 percent. And the only Democrat named on the ballot, longtime conservative Larry Spencer, won just 47 percent of the vote while 53 percent of the voters wrote in their pick for the nominee for assessor. That is expected to be Shirley McFadden, who had the support of the county’s Democratic Party.

Treasurer: In the closest race in the county, Steven Matheson edged out Laurie Thomas for the Republican nomination for treasurer. Matheson won with 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Thomas, the county’s chief deputy treasurer. The Democratic nod went to certified public accountant and former IRS agent Janet Callen with 89 percent of the vote. Retired firefighter Gordy Ormesher took 11 percent.

Coroner: Republican Warren Keene, an emergency room physician at Kootenai Health, defeated incumbent Debbie Wilkey. Keene had 58 percent of the vote to Wilkey’s 42 percent. No one filed as a Democrat.

Kootenai County voters showed a preference for tea party-backed candidates, who didn’t fare as well statewide. Although Gov. Butch Otter easily won the GOP nomination for his bid for a third term, in Kootenai County Otter took 44 percent of the vote, behind Russ Fulcher with 52 percent.

And although Lawrence Wasden, Idaho’s longest-serving attorney general, defeated tea party favorite C.T. “Chris” Troupis on Tuesday, Troupis was the clear favorite in Kootenai County, where he grabbed 56 percent of the vote.

Legislative races: Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, lost big to challenger Eric Redman; Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene easily dispatched challenger Patrick Whalen; and Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, did the same for challenger Terry Warner. Retired Los Angeles police officer Don Cheatham defeated two other candidates in the GOP primary for retiring Rep. Frank Henderson’s seat; Henderson had endorsed Greg Gfeller.

And seventh-term Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, lost in the primary to conservative activist Mary Souza. No Democrat filed for the seat, so Souza will face Constitution Party candidate Ray Writz in November.

Kootenai County saw a low voter turnout of just 21.72 percent of registered voters; statewide voter turnout figures aren’t out yet.

Other legislative incumbents around the state who fell in the primary included seventh-term Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, who lost to GOP challenger Sage Dixon; Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, losing to Merrill Beyeler; Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, falling to challenger Abby Lee; and freshman Rep. Doug Hancey, R-Rexburg, losing to Ron Nate.

Staff writer Betsy Z. Russell contributed to this report.