The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 29, 2010

Dist. 1 county commissioner race takes recount twist

By Chris Dell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — The tightly contested District 1 Garfield County commissioner race has taken another twist.

Russell Bowling, of Douglas, got the shortest straw Tuesday in the three-man Republican primary, which saw only seven votes separating the top vote-getter from the low man. Thursday the Douglas man requested a recount of all Garfield County ballots from the commission election.

The votes will be counted again at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Garfield County Election Board, 903 Failing Ave.

“I was shocked it was that close,” said Bowling, who has been a county employee for more than 28 years. “I’m eventually going to have to work for one of these two guys, unless this recount goes better than we think.”

Dennis McKinzie, of Enid, led the candidates in the primary with 431 votes. Marc Bolz, of Covington, was just two votes behind, and Bowling finished with 424. The two top finishers advance to a runoff Aug. 24, with the winner inheriting the county seat currently occupied by Steve Hobson. No Democrats or independents filed for office.

Bolz said he also was surprised the race was as close as it was, but he doesn’t dispute Bowling’s request for a recount.

“That’s how our system works. He has the right to do what he did,” Bolz said.

Election Board Secretary Lue Ann Root said she couldn’t remember the last time there was a recount in a county race.

“It’s been a while,” she said.

McKinzie said the county’s electronic ballot counters are very accurate, but he thought Bowling “did the right thing.”

While the candidates wait for results of the recount, they will go back to work in preparation for next month’s runoff, emphasizing visits to precincts where votes were close in Tuesday’s election.

Bolz won four of the district’s precincts, with McKinzie picking up three and Bowling winning two and the absentee majority. Bowling and Bolz tied for the most votes in one.

McKinzie won three of the six precincts within Enid city limits, with Bowling taking two. Bolz and Bowling tied at the Enid Woodring Regional Airport precinct. The most notable disparity was at the Covington precinct, where Bowling and Bolz combined to take 175 of 180 votes. All of Bolz’ precinct wins came outside Enid.

McKinzie, who was vacationing with his family Thursday, said he understands some of the rural precincts will be difficult to win in August.

“From the very beginning, I certainly understand the loyalty in rural areas,” McKinzie said. “That’s very understandable. My stance in rural areas is not trying to sway people away from their candidate but to help them understand if I’m county commissioner I’m going to be there and be very available and represent them well.”