Weld County Sheriff John Cooke’s hand-picked successor, Steve Reams, won Tuesday’s Republican primary election with 70 percent of the vote.
The public safety bureau chief at the sheriff’s office defeated Keith Olson, chief investigator at the Weld District Attorney’s Office.
Reams was leading late Tuesday with 14,201 votes compared to 6,080 votes for Olson.
“I’m ecstatic,” Reams said. “We’ve been campaigning for over 14 months now and we worked really hard to get here. I’ve had a heck of a lot of help along the way.”
Reams said he watched the returns come in from his home in Platteville, and he was a bit surprised by the result.
“I had been preparing for something within 10 percentage points,” he said. “I viewed my competitor as someone not to be taken lightly, so I was not overconfident. To see this kind of result, I think it shows we’ve been doing the right things during the campaign.”
Reams also said he’s already preparing for the general election in November.
“I’m just hoping we can keep this momentum going,” he said. “We still have the general election to run for, but this is a huge step. I’m as happy as I could be.”
With primary elections focused on gaining the favor of only one party, Reams acknowledged he’ll have to bring his message to a larger audience to come out on top in the general election.
“Any time you win a primary you have to realize you’re now trying to get the votes of people who are not necessarily in your camp,” Reams said. “We’re going to try to unite those people and get everyone on the same sheet of music to win the general election.”
Olson was reached by phone around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, and he said he’d already called Reams to congratulate him.
“I told him I’d support him. He’s our party’s candidate now,” Olson said. “The people have spoken and that’s who I’m going to support.”
Olson said he felt a great sense of relief after the primary’s conclusion.
“I wish I had the opportunity to be sheriff, but I’ve got a great job and I look forward to continuing as the chief investigator at the district attorney’s office,” Olson said. “The great thing about this is I still have my law enforcement job. I’m very pleased.”
Democrat Jeff Rodriguez, a former correctional officer and division commander with the sheriff’s office, won the Democratic nomination for Weld sheriff on Tuesday in an uncontested primary.
Rodriguez will face Reams and unaffiliated candidate Richard Day in the general election Nov. 4.