Low voter turnout led to tight races in Scotts Bluff County primaries

May 16, 2018 GMT

SCOTTSBLUFF — The votes are in. The ballots have been counted in Nebraska’s primary election.

Voter turnout was light, except in Garden County where voters mailed in their ballots. The pilot program of solely by-mail voting in Garden County proved successful, as voter turnout reached nearly 60 percent during Tuesday’s primary elections. Out of the 1,363 registered voters, 800 ballots were cast.

Sheridan County also had a good turn out, with its 3,748 registered voters, 34 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

Elsewhere voter turnout was much lower. In Scotts Bluff County, 4,401 of the county’s 24,009 registered voters showed up at the polls.

“The turnout was poor,” said Scotts Bluff County Election Commissioner Vera Dulaney. “Maybe people didn’t think a primary election was that important.”


Statewide, U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith has won the Republican nomination to seek a seventh term in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District.

Smith fended off three GOP challengers on Tuesday to claim the nomination. He now will face Democrat Paul Theobald, a hog farmer, historian and former administrator at Wayne State College who ran unopposed for his party’s nomination.

Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, who is running for re-election and will face Lincoln city councilwoman and grocery store executive Jane Raybould who won the Democratic nomination.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has easily won the Republican nomination to seek a second term in November. He will be challenged by Nebraska State Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha who has won the Democratic nomination.

Nebraska State Sen. John Murante has secured the Republican nomination for state treasurer.

Lincoln attorney Bob Evnen has won the Republican nomination to replace outgoing Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale.

Evnen’s victory on Tuesday sets him up to face Democrat Spencer Danner. Gale is not seeking re-election.

Scotts Bluff County

In Scotts Bluff County, several races were extremely tight. Incumbent District I County Commissioner Mark Reichert won re-election by five votes, 218-213, over challenger Mick Lookabill. District III and District V will also have new commissioners. Charlie Knapper defeated incumbent Sherry Blaha, 379-162 in District III and Mark Harris defeated long-time incumbent Mark Masterton in District V, 362-174.

The race for county clerk was also close as Republican Pamela Schleve-Cassels defeated Kelly Sides by a single vote, 987-986.

And in the race for Mitchell mayor, David Curtis won the three-candidate field with 101 votes. But Paul Murrell and incumbent Brian Taylor tied with 92 votes each. That will require a recount.

Kimball County

In Kimball County, Incumbent County Clerk Cathy Sibal faced opposition for the first time in more than 20 years of service. She received 528 votes while Dawn Hickman received 223.

Sibal said she was grateful for the position and thankful to the voters.

“This is the first time I’ve been contested and even if I’m not, I take the voters marking that box seriously,” Sibal said.

Even though she won the race, Sibal said all the candidates needed to be congratulated for running in the race.

Sibal plans to continue service the public with courteous, efficient service as she continues to serve the residents of Kimball county.

Deuel County

In Deuel County, the race for county commissioner, Swan Precinct, was a close one with William “Bill” Klingman receiving 59 votes and Ryan Timm receiving 57 votes.

Garden County

In Garden County one of the tightest races of the night was on the Republican ticket between John Murante and Taylor Royal for the state treasurer seat. With a mere 27 votes separating the two, Murante came out on top in the county with 273 votes.

The race for governor on the Democratic side of the aisle fared tight as well, with Bob Krist winning by one vote in Garden County. Vanessa Gayle Ward was close behind with 22 votes, followed by Tyler A. Davis with 20.

Sheridan County

In Sheridan County, despite a diverse ticket, many incumbent candidates won the race in the county, moving them on to the generals this fall. The tightest race of the night came between Bob Evnen and Debra Perrell for the Secretary of State seat on the Republican ticket, with 30 votes separating the two candidates. Perrell came out on top, earning 435 votes from Sheridan County voters.

Cheyenne County

Cheyenne County recorded 1,736 ballots Tuesday. The two closest races were the Republican race for state treasurer, where John Murante beat Taylor Royal 588 to 517, and the Democratic race for governor. Bob Krist won out with 97 votes, over Vanessa Gayle Ward with 62 and Tyler A. Davis with 58. Locally, Melody H. Keller won the Republican race for Cheyenne County assessor, beating incumbent Sybil Prosser 860-479.

“I feel great,” Keller said. “I have some amazing friends who supported me along the way.”

Morrill County

Morrill County took in 786 ballots. Republican State Treasurer candidate John Murante narrowly beat Taylor Royal, taking the county with 256 votes over 232. On the Democrats side, Bob Krist squeaked by Vanessa Gayle Ward for governor, winning 37 over 34, with an additional 19 votes going to Tyler A. Davis.

Charlie Browne won his bid for mayor of Bridgeport with 163 votes, over half of the total votes. Trevor J. Schneider won for the North Platte NRD spot, edging out Ryan Reuter 210-172 votes. The two won 64 percent of the county’s votes for the position.

Box Butte County

In Box Butte, 1,598 ballots were counted. John Murante won a narrow race for Republican State Treasurer over Taylor Royal, sneaking by with 503 votes over Royal’s 489. On the other side of the aisle, Vanessa Gayle came within four votes to Bob Krist’s bid for Democratic governor candidate, losing 98 to 102.

Earl Jones, Mike Dafney and Annora Bentley won spots on the Alliance City Council.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this story.