Winners, clockwise from top left: John Casey, Linda Miller, Debbie James and Matt Thompson.

A highly contested race for the GOP nomination for a county commissioner seat saw a Simmons man slip by his challenger in a light voter turnout Tuesday.

John Casey won over Sharon Rees of Houston to capture the Republican nomination for District 1 commissioner, 817-778. Rees picked up a 67-vote margin in Houston, while Cabool came through for Casey by 73 votes. Casey picked up his victory at the Dunn precinct, where he won 119-86.

Casey will face David Adkison, a Houston Democrat, in the fall. Incumbent Joe B. Whetstine, a Republican, did not seek re-election.

The stage is also set for the other seat on the county commissioner. Incumbent Linda Garrett, a Licking Republican, was unopposed. She will face Licking’s mayor, Linda Miller, a Democrat, in November. Miller won over Rueben Roedeske, 411-166.

Matt Thompson defeated two competitors for the Republican nomination for sheriff. Thompson tallied 1,269 votes to beat challengers Steven H. Lawhead and Wes Ellison. The count: Lawhead, 298; and Ellison, 734. Thompson will face Sheriff Carl Watson, a Democrat in the fall.

Republican Assessor Debbie James won over opponent Lynn Cheek to win her party’s nomination, 1,701-940. James will face Democratic challenger Terry Kell, a former county commissioner, on Nov. 4. James won every precinct in the county except for Houston – where Cheek won by 77 votes.

Kell advanced to the General Election by beating Shalena Purcell, 782-395.

In a three-way race for a House seat that includes a portion of Texas County, Wright County Clerk Tony Dugger won the GOP nomination. He defeated challengers Lillard “Del” Davis, 2,210; and Anthony Kelly, 2,351. Dugger had 3,105 votes.

Tuesday’s balloting saw only about 28 percent of the county’s more than 14,000 voters arriving at polls. In all, 4,053 voted at county precincts.

The highest turnout of the day came at Houston, where about 32 percent or 1,115 – voted Tuesday. The worst tally was at Summersville, where only 17 percent bothered to vote.

Statewide Contests: Texas County GOP primary voters overwhelmingly supported Sarah Steelman of Rolla in her bid for Missouri governor. The race garnered the most attention statewide after Gov. Matt Blunt abruptly announced he would not seek re-election. Steelman beat challenger Rep. Kenny Hulshof of Columbia, 1,902-598, in the county. Statewide, voters nominated Hulshof, who will face his former boss, Attorney General Jay Nixon, a Democrat, in the fall. Hulshof garnered strong support in his home bases of Columbia and the Bootheel, as well in the state’s northern counties.

Hulshof attributed his victory to a strong Republican organization that kept him close in the counties where he campaigned little and pushed him over the top in others. He said he knew the Kansas City area was a problem because he is not well-known there and he lacked the financial resources to advertise on network television affiliates.

The general election, he said, will be different. He said the campaign starts with renewed fund-raising appeals and the next stops on his bus tour of the state, including a stop in Kansas City late this week.

The congressman said he expected Democrats to try to blame him for every failure in Washington and to try to criticize him for the policies of outgoing Republican Gov. Matt Blunt. Well, bring it on, he said.

The county’s bellwether status – with the exception of the Steelman-Hulshof battle – remained intact. County voters supported every statewide winner on both the Republican and Democrat Tickets.

Statewide, the closest race of the evening was the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Chris Koster tallied 118,589 – that was 852 more than Margaret Donnelly’s total. Following third was Jeff Harris of Columbia, who had 86,379.

The Democratic victor will face a rested and well-funded Republican, state Sen. Mike Gibbons of Kirkwood.

Gibbons had no primary opponent, and has close to $342,000 in his campaign bank account.

The Democratic contest has been the party’s marquee statewide race for months.

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