Voters will pick Sheriffs on August 9th

While the November 8th general election gains the bulk of attention with congressional midterms and key statewide positions on the ballot, the August 9th partisan primary will determine the top cop in many northland counties. 

Four counties in the region will see contested primary races with candidates running on only one ticket.   That means the winner of the August 9th primary will advance unopposed to the November general election.

Along with other county positions such as Coroner and Clerk of Courts, the Sheriff can choose to run on a partisan ballot.  Most choose to run along with the two major parties as a Democrat or Republican.  To increase their odds of winning election, Sheriff candidates generally run on the partisan ballot that most aligns with the county they represent.  In Republican-leaning counties, that means Sheriff candidates will tend to run on the GOP ticket.   Likewise, Sheriff candidates generally choose to run as Democrat in blue counties. 

Northland Freedom Alliance will break down the state of local Sheriff races in the region:

Ashland, Bayfield and Douglas Counties will each elect new Sheriff’s as the current incumbents are retiring and not seeking re-election.

Three challengers are pursuing outgoing Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbac’s job. Matthew Izzard, Mark Liebaert and Brian Witt are all running on the Democrat ticket on August 9th.  Democrats generally garner 55-60% of the vote in the historically blue county.

Democrat Sheriff Paul Susienka is retiring in Bayfield County.  He will be replaced by either Mark Pope or Tony Williams. 

Ashland County Sheriff Mick Brennan’s job will be filled by either Alan Lindquist , Anthony Budreau or Brian Zupke.  All are running on the Democrat ballot, and like Douglas and Bayfield County, the winner will face no Republican challenger in the November general election. 

Two incumbents will be defending their position this year.  Sawyer County Sheriff and incumbent Doug Mrotek is being challenged by fellow Republicans Jay Poplin and Chuck Van Etten. 

Likewise Washburn County Sheriff Dennis Stuart is being challenged by fellow Republican Warren Tuttle.  Both Sawyer and Washburn Counties traditionally vote for the GOP and there are no Democrat Sheriff candidates on the ballot. 

The remaining Sheriffs in the ten-county region will run unopposed.  These races include Republican incumbents Paul Samardich of Iron County, Brian Schmidt of Price County, Jeff Wallace of Rusk County and Democrat Chris Fitzgerald of Barron County

Voters in Burnett County won’t find a Sheriff candidate on the August 9th partisan primary ballot.  Incumbent Traci Finch is seeking another term; however she’s chosen to run as an independent and therefore will be listed on the November ballot but not on any of the partisan primary ballots.  Finch is running unopposed. 

Voters should be reminded that they can only choose one partisan ballot to cast their votes in the upcoming primary.  For example, if voters choose to cast a ballot for Democrat Sheriff candidates in either Douglas, Bayfield or Ashland Counties, they must choose the Democrat ballot and therefore will not be allowed to cast ballots for Republican primary candidates in the Gubernatorial or other partisan contests. 

As a result of high-profile local races for partisan Sheriff seats, it’s anticipated that Democrat turnout will be higher in Douglas, Bayfield and Ashland counties due to hot Sheriff primaries while Republican turnout will be greater in traditionally red counties of Sawyer and Washburn.  Sheriff races tend to drive a lot of local interest as voters often know the candidates personally.  Likewise, the battle to get out the most yard signs for your Sheriff candidate of choice seems to overshadow other races. 

To find out who will be listed on your August 9th ballot, visit