Pennington ends sheriff bid, backs sergeant
The Mesa County sheriff candidate defeated last month by state Sen. Steve King said in a release he won’t continue a bid for the office during a GOP vacancy committee meeting scheduled for Monday, while backing another potential candidate.
John Pennington, a self-described constitutional candidate, will support an anticipated bid for office by Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Matt Lewis, according to a release Friday from Linda Deaton, Pennington’s campaign manager. The endorsement comes after a meeting among the two men, the release said.
“Mr. Pennington wishes to thank everyone who supported his candidacy and encourages them to meet Matt Lewis, get to know him and support him,” Deaton wrote. “Lewis will have an uphill battle because the Mesa County Republican party has left so many conservatives with a bad taste. Mr. Pennington hopes that the GOP elitists who maligned and lied about him during the primary campaign will treat Mr. Lewis with more respect.”
The release also says, “The GOP vacancy committee will likely choose Sgt. Lewis.”
Lewis is in charge of the Sheriff Office’s complex crimes unit, which handles major incidents of crimes against persons such as homicide, suspicious death, sexual assault, missing people and crimes against children.
Pennington was handily defeated by King during the June 24 primary election, 71 percent to 29 percent, but King on Wednesday dropped his campaign in the face of a criminal investigation.
The GOP vacancy committee meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at the Grand Junction City Hall auditorium.
Per state law, the party has five days from when a resignation is effective to notify a vacancy committee that it must meet, while the panel has another two days to select a replacement. Anyone who has been a registered Republican since Nov. 4, 2013, can put their names in for consideration. Prospective nominees must pass an FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation background check.
As of Friday, the Republican nominee was sure to face a pair of unaffiliated candidates who have petitioned onto the Nov. 4 general election ballot, Patrick Arotin and Ralph Hamblin. Three more candidates, Bruce Lohmiller, Mike Harlow and Benita Phillips, are running as official write-ins.