Matt Murray did not cheer or burst into celebration early Wednesday morning when the final votes were counted and he was declared winner of a three-man Republican primary for Curry County sheriff. Instead, the announcement was met with quiet satisfaction, saturated with exhaustion and relief.
In a spirited race, Murray garnered 48 percent of the 3,070 votes cast in the election. Curry County Undersheriff Doug Bowman Jr. earned 42 percent while Wesley Myers garned 9 percent of the votes.
Murray will run unopposed in the November election and is scheduled to take office in January, replacing two-term Sheriff Roger Hatcher.
Murray politely shook the hand of Deputy Clerk Connie Jo Lyman just before 1 a.m. Wednesday and left the courthouse with a small group of supporters as soon as the votes were tabulated.
A crash of the server used to process the unofficial precinct reports statewide around 10 p.m. Tuesday delayed the results well past the expected time for reporting the numbers.
“I’ll be able to breath again,” he said after it was all over. “I’m overjoyed. This is something I’ve always wanted to do for this county.”
Murray credited his win to good people and dedicated supporters.
“My short-term goal was to win the race. Now I’ll start thinking about long-term goals for the Sheriff’s Department,” he said.
Unsure of his next step, Bowman said the next six months as undersheriff will give him time to decide.
“Even in a losing effort, I am very proud of the job we did,” he said. “We ran a clean campaign.”
Hollis retains Magistrate seat
Incumbent Richard Hollis held off a challenge for his Division 2 Magistrate Judge position from Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher.
Hollis received 1,803 votes to 1,223 for his opponent in the Republican race.
He will run unopposed in the November general election.
Hollis monitored results of the election late Tuesday evening from the Curry County Courthouse, but left the building before all the ballots had been counted.
In the primary race for Division 1 Magistrate Judge, Clovis native Duane Castleberry edged out his opponent, Diane Mains.
He corralled 1,636 votes, with Mains winning 1,200.
In November, he will run against Democrat Doug Miller, current magistrate judge.
From his home, Castleberry accepted his victory calmly.
“I feel good, of course,” he said.
“There was no mudslinging. It just worked out in my favor.”
— Marlena Hartz
Two Commission seats filled
Veteran politicians Robert Sandoval and Frank Blackburn were victors in the Curry County commissioner races on Tuesday.
Sandoval defeated Fidel Madrid and Edwin Perales II during the Democratic primary election to fill the District 1 commission seat being vacated by Edwin Perales Jr.
Sandoval received 132 votes. Madrid finished with 100 votes and Perales II garnered 46 votes.
Perales II is the son of Perales Jr., who was ineligible for re-election due to a two-term limit.
Sandoval, a sitting Clovis city commissioner, said he is in awe that he will be the first person in Clovis history to serve on both commissions simultaneously.
“I’m very excited at the new challenges I will be facing,” Sandoval said. “I feel I have served the city well and I hope to do the same for the county.”
A retired postal worker and National Guard veteran, Sandoval, 70, said his first priority will be to get the county commissioners to expand their horizons.
Blackburn triumphed over Dusty Leatherwood for the Democratic bid in District 3. Blackburn will replace current County Commissioner Kathrynn Tate. The final vote was 115 to 90.
Blackburn, a longtime farmer and rancher who previously served two terms as county commissioner, said he hopes to improve road conditions and alleviate jail overcrowding during his term. He said he would like to be more aggressive in obtaining funds for the road department and plans to support alternative sentencing programs for inmates.
Duncan wins probate race
When county officials declared Kevin Duncan the winner of the probate judge primary election, one thing was foremost on his mind — sleep.
Duncan garnered 1,469 votes, according to county tallies, which trickled in Wednesday morning, slowed by a hitch in counting absentee ballots. His opponent, Michael Wells, garnered 1,429 votes, just 40 less.
Duncan, 32, will run against fellow Clovis native and Democrat Gloria Wicker in November’s general election.
Wicker is a former railroad worker.
Duncan is a former mortician who served as a funeral director for Muffley Funeral Home for 14 years. He recently accepted a job with Curtis and Curtis Seed Co.