The only primary race in Chase County this year came down to Cedar Point vs. Matfield Green; and one skinny vote.
Unofficial results from Tuesday’s Kansas Primary show Rick Robinson received 146 votes for District 1 Commissioner. Alan Phipps had 145.
“One apart? You’re kidding,” Phipps said Tuesday night when the Leader-News called him and provided the numbers.
“Very, very close,” Robinson said Wednesday. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Both men were left to wait on follow-up checks at the Election Office. An audit of the returns was scheduled for Friday morning.
“We will be told by the Secretary of State’s office what races to audit, and hand-counting all of the ballots that affect that race,” Deputy Elections Officer Tiffany Harshman explained Wednesday.
The county election board will be involved in the audit, and since County Commissioner was the only contested local race, it will be included.
Then an official canvassing of the primary vote will happen Monday morning in the Commission Chambers.
“The provisional ballots get presented,” Harshman said. Decision will be made on which ones should be allowed.
As of Wednesday, 20 provisional ballots awaited a decision. Mail ballots postmarked no later than Tuesday were accepted through Friday. The Election Office had at least 13 of those. It’s not clear how many of those will affect the commissioner race.
While Phipps congratulated Robinson Tuesday night “if he’s the winner,” he decided not to concede for the moment.
“We’ll see how the provisionals turn out,” Phipps said.
“I wasn’t expecting to lose. I wasn’t expecting to win,” Robinson said. He added that either choice was “good for the community.”
Robinson and his wife live in Cedar Point and own Rick and Jenny’s restaurant and country store in Cassoday. Phipps is a farmer and rancher in Matfield Green.
“I didn’t do a lot of campaigning. I sent out some cards, but not a lot of signs,” Phipps said.
Close contests in Chase County are not new. Harshman recalled a 2019 USD 284 school board race.
“They actually had to flip a coin,” she said. It led to Cathy Jones serving over Matthew Miller.
Whoever wins the Republican nomination could have a big advantage against Democrat Theresa Van Ackeren of Matfield Green in November. For one thing, she received only 57 votes Tuesday; 189 registered Democrats voted countywide.
For another thing, statistics by the Kansas Secretary of State show as of July, 1,250 registered voters in Chase County were Republicans, while 284 were Democrats. Another 313 had no affiliation, while 11 were Libertarian.
The winner in November will replace Randy Talkington, who decided not to seek a second term on the commission.
Almost 59% of all registered voters marked ballots in the Chase County primary The increased interest may have been due to the nationally publicized “Value Them Both” question on abortion. Only 12 people did not cast a vote on that issue in the county.
Chase County supported the abortion referendum, but the margin was close, with 566 in favor and 527 opposed (51.8%).
Other statewide races found Chase County voters supported incumbent Democrat Laura Kelly and Republican Derek Schmidt for Governor by wide margins. Sen. Jerry Moran had a 5-1 margin over fellow Republican Joan Farr.
In tightly-contested Republican races, Kris Kobach was the county’s choice for Attorney General. He received 376 votes to 235 for Kellie Warren and 191 for Tony Mattivi. Mattivi was endorsed by County Attorney William Halvorsen.
Republicans preferred incumbent Scott Schwab for Secretary of State by 22 votes over Mike Brown, 373-351. Steven Johnson led Caryn Tyson for State Treasurer 465-265.
But Chase County Democrats went against the form sheet in the six-person U.S. Senate primary. Paul Buskirk led with 44 votes, followed by nominee Mark Holland with 43.
The Secretary of State’s website indicated Chase and Meade Counties were the first two in Kansas to report complete returns Tuesday night.