Commissioner: One runaway, one nail biter

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COEUR d'ALENE — One Kootenai County commissioner was on his way to being defeated during Tuesday's primary as of presstime at 11:45 p.m., while another was in a tight race, as many political followers had expected.

Challenger Bill Brooks, who writes a consumer advocate column for The Press, owns a real estate firm and is a disabled veteran, had 3,114 votes (52.6 percent) after the absentee ballots and 18 of the 70 total precincts had been counted. Fellow Republican Marc Eberlein, who became the District 1 commissioner four years ago, had 2,807 votes (47.4 percent).

No Democrats filed for the race in the primary, so the Brooks-Eberlein winner will be the presumed next seat holder.

In the five-way Republican race for District 3 commissioner, Challenger Leslie Duncan had a comfortable lead with 2,328 votes (41.2 percent) to incumbent Bob Bingham's 1,118 (19.8 percent).

Challengers Robert Thornton had 987 votes, followed by Luke Sommer with 752 and Russell McLain with 470.

"All of the diligent workers and supporters who were right by my side the entire campaign made it great," Duncan said. "The wonderful people I've met along the way who are now part of my life made the race worthwhile."

The seat is currently a two-year term but changes to a four-year seat in January.

In the 2016 primary, Bingham won a four-way race, edging Duncan by 69 votes.

Duncan, who spent 10 years in law enforcement and 14 years in technical services for a live TV production, has served on the Aquifer Protection District board for nearly four years.

Bingham said he figured he faced an uphill battle to be re-elected.

"There was no shortage of candidates in my race," Bingham said. "Clearly, Leslie Duncan was the frontrunner based on the amount of expended energy by a variety of (people within the Republican Party). The way I look at it, I was down about 15 (percentage points heading into Tuesday's vote).

"I was ready to continue serving folks if they wanted me to and, if not, I'm fine with that as well."

The District 3 winner faces Democrat Ruben Miranda and Libertarian Larry Pegg in November's general election.

Bingham said he didn't accept donations for his campaign and go door knocking.

"I didn't get any notices from the Central Committee to take around fliers but I heard through the grapevine that they (were doing so for other candidates)," he said.

"I didn't take this job for the (money), so I knew I could easily finance the campaign."

Bingham said he's made some decisions that vocal groups don't like, including earning the approval of a new senior business analyst position, the opt-out option on building permits and supporting the transit center.

"I certainly had the perception that a lot people were working to get me out of office," he said.

Republican candidates for treasurer (Steven Matheson), clerk (Jim Brannon), coroner (Warren Keane) and assessor (Rich Houser) did not draw any opponents in the primary. Brannon will be challenged in the general election by Dan Gookin, who is not affiliated with a party.

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