NEW LONDON, Mo. — A bitterly fought and intensely personal race in the Republican primary election for Ralls County sheriff ended with a lopsided victory Tuesday.
Monroe City Police Officer Brad Stinson, a former Ralls County deputy, rolled over Ralls County Chief Deputy Ronald Haught, 1,175 votes to 867 votes — an overwhelming 67% to 33% margin — in a race marked by third-party social media attacks on Haught.
There is no Democrat in the Nov. 3 general election, giving Stinson an unopposed path to the sheriff's four-year term, which begins Jan. 1.
Stinson, who was outspent by Haught, said he was surprised by his winning margin.
"I am humbled by the victory. I attribute this win to God and to my friends and family who helped in my campaign," he said.
During the campaign, Stinson said that he would fire Haught as chief deputy in day one in office, and Tuesday night said that Haught would not be employed when he takes office.
"I would expect he will be gone by then, but if not, he will not be a part of the Ralls County Sheriff's Department," Stinson said.
Haught could not be reached for comment.
When he takes office in January, Stinson will inherit a group of deputies who unanimously signed a full-page ad endorsing Haught that appeared in the Hannibal Courier Post and the Salt River Journal.
"I am willing to work with all the deputies," Stinson said. "They were signing a letter supporting their supervisor, and I cannot fault them for that. There will be an evaluation of each deputy to make sure they are willing and able to work and follow new orders."
Stinson is a 1990 graduate of Mark Twain High School and a graduate of the John Wood Community College criminal justice class. He is a 2010 graduate Law Enforcement Peace Officer Training.
During his campaign, Stinson said that the Ralls County Sheriff's Department was too focused on patroling state highways at the expense of rural areas.
"Frequent and random patrols of all county roads (are needed) to thwart residential burglary and other related crimes," Stinson said.
He said that he will push for the Ralls County Commission to purchase body and vehicle cameras for deputies "in order to provide transparency to the courts and citizens."
In another hotly contested race in the Republican primary, incumbent Ralls County Coroner Robert Van Winkle rolled over outgoing Ralls County Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie by a margin of 1,639 votes to 898 votes — 65% versus 35%.
"This is something else," Van Winkle said of his margin of victory. "I really appreciate the voters of Ralls County."
In another contested Republican Party primary election contest, incumbent Western District Commissioner John Wayne Lake, who had been a target of social media, defeated challenger Roger Woodhurst, 816 to 609 — 57% to 43%.