The Republican primary race for El Paso County sheriff was all about strategy for incumbent Terry Maketa. Tuesday night, he dared anyone to say that his fell short. He even added some hyperbole.
"I guess it was a brilliant strategy," Maketa said, while accepting kudos at his election night party for securing a third four-year term by a whopping 72-28 percent over Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk.
"Why spend money when it's not going to do you any good? You've got to get your message out when it's going to make a difference."
Maketa saved the bulk of the approximately $31,000 he raised in campaign contributions and spent it on advertising in the last few weeks before the primary. He says he also took to the streets, delivering fliers and talking with constituents in 72 of the county's 387 precincts. Maketa piled up a huge lead when mail-in votes were announced shortly after polls closed, quickly ending any suspense.
There is no Democratic candidate for sheriff, and assuming he wins over independent challenger John "Doc" Holiday in the November general election, Maketa says he will continue to help Colorado lawmakers work toward an immigration law comparable to the one Arizona adopted.
"I've already talked to legislators, and we're working on drafting something similar," he says. "It wouldn't change what we do in El Paso County, just restate federal law. We need to re-educate the public about racial profiling myths."
Maketa has dealt with five rounds of budget cuts during his eight years as sheriff, and now is waiting to hear whether his department will receive a federal grant that would pay for 20 additional deputies for three years. He says the department has lost 22 deputies due to budget shortfalls.
Shirk, a first-time candidate for an elected office with nearly 35 years of law enforcement experience, said Tuesday he would not have done anything differently in his campaign. He had surprised many in the spring by getting 44 percent of the vote at the Republican county assembly. But he never was able to dent Maketa's edge among voters inside the city.
"We stayed above board and maintained integrity," Shirk said at his gathering of supporters. "I'll continue to protect our citizens. Whether it's as a sheriff or police chief, it's an honor to do that."
Maketa, who in January said he would not seek another four-year term but in February changed his mind, also sailed to victory in 2002 and 2006.