The field for the Republican nomination for Weld County sheriff narrowed to two on Monday when Margie Martinez Perusek announced she would withdraw from the race.
In a news release, she said she was urging support for Keith Olson in caucuses scheduled today. That leaves Olson and Steve Reams as candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the seat.
Perusek’s withdrawal from the race, in which she announced her candidacy a year ago, follows some personal attacks on her character that landed on social media last week, and in a public candidate’s forum.
Perusek did not state in her news release that personal attacks were the reason she is withdrawing.
Perusek stated she was abandoning her run after reviewing the potential caucus attendees. The release stated she and Olson would have split their support in the caucus.
“My own interest in the position of sheriff must give way to ensure that Weld County is able to elect a well-qualified, conservative candidate who brings a fresh eye to meet the challenges of the future and has the courage to make the changes that are necessary to make a professional organization that is responsive to the voters,” Perusek said in the news release. “Keith Olson is that person. I care too much about Weld County citizens to do otherwise. I know that my supporters have that very concern and I cannot express the debt I owe them for the hard work they have done and their commitment to my campaign. They will remain in my memory and have my everlasting gratitude.”
Olson, a retired detective from Greeley Police Department and the chief investigator at the Weld District Attorney’s Office, said he had heard rumors of orchestrated attacks against Perusek as well, but he would not comment on them.
“I trust Margie and have never had any reason to doubt her integrity,” Olson said. “Personal attacks have no place in politics when … you reduce someone to a victim. It’s been done to so many people, and a lot of times it’s ridiculous stuff. They’ll manufacture anything.”
Olson said he was proud to have Perusek’s support in the race, which pitted the two against each other amid a 30-year friendship.
“We maintained our friendship throughout,” Olson said. “We both knew we had a shared vision, and never allowed competition to interfere with our friendship, and the way our camps treated one another.”
Steve Reams, who is a bureau chief at the Weld sheriff’s office and the other remaining Republican candidate, said it would be natural for people to think opposing candidates were generating the negative stories or rumors.
“Anyone with any history in the sheriff’s office or law enforcement, they know stories about all of us,” Reams said. “Whether the stories are good or bad, they’re there.”
But he said his camp wasn’t behind any negative campaigning.
“Frankly, I was never focused on discrediting my opponents,” Reams said. “I’m trying to win a race. I’ve not been focused on my opponents. I’m just lining up as much support and talking with as many people as possible.”
Martinez said in her news release that she would provide no further comment about her withdrawal, and she did not return a call seeking comment on the rumored attacks on her character.