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Thornsberry, Miller file for county office; deadline at 5 p.m. today
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (March 30, 2010) — As the filing deadline for the August primary election approaches, two more candidates filed Monday on the Republican ticket for county positions.

The filing deadline for political party nominations for county, state and federal offices is 5 p.m. today. County candidates file with their county clerk; state and federal candidates file with the secretary of state in Jefferson City.

Both of the two candidates who filed in Pulaski County on Monday are themselves former officeholders.

Ken Miller of St. Robert served many years ago as the Pulaski County Circuit Clerk after he was appointed by the governor to fill that post, and he is challenging longtime incumbent Rachelle Beasley of Waynesville for that position. So far, Miller is the only Republican and Beasley is the only Democrat to file for the circuit court clerk post.

Dennis Thornsberry of Crocker served from 2000 to 2008 as the western district commissioner and is now seeking the presiding commissioner post currently held by Don McCulloch, who was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon last fall to fill a vacancy when former Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall of Waynesville resigned to accept a position on the Missouri State Tax Commission for which the Missouri State Senate subsequently declined to confirm him. Thornsberry had been the Pulaski County Republican Central Committee’s nominee to fill Ransdall’s vacancy, for which Nixon eventually appointed McCulloch, the nominee of the Pulaski County Democratic Central Committee. Thornsberry will face two other Republicans, fellow Crocker resident Don Mayhew, the former Pulaski County Surveyor who currently serves as president of the Crocker R-II School Board and is facing a re-election vote for that post next week Tuesday, and St. Robert Alderman Gene Newkirk.

Thornsberry’s filing means Republicans will have at least two three-way races in the August primary, while so far, no local Democrat faces any opposition in that party’s primary.

That’s a major change. Not many years ago, Republicans had difficulty finding candidates for office and the elections were usually decided in the Democratic Party’s primary since Republicans rarely succeeded in defeating a Democrat in the general election.

In addition to the presiding commissioner race, Republicans have a three-way race for Pulaski County Clerk. Incumbent Republican Diana Linnenbringer is retiring after eight years serving as county clerk, along with previous service as the child support enforcement officer in the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office under former Republican Prosecutor Mike Headrick. One of her long-term employees, Whitney Medlin of Crocker, is seeking to succeed her but is being challenged by two other Republicans, Brent Bassett of St. Robert and Rebecca Reid of Richland.

Republicans also have a two-way race for the prosecuting attorney’s office, where one-term incumbent Deborah Hooper of Waynesville faces a challenge from Jeff Thomas of Dixon.

Wayne Gifford of Laquey has filed for the Democratic nomination for prosecuting attorney but no Democrats have filed so far for county clerk.

Other county candidates running include:

• Incumbent County Collector Terri Mitchell, a Richland Republican, who so far has no Democratic opponent.

• Sue Rapone, a Waynesville Republican who has filed against incumbent Democratic County Treasurer Morris Roam of Crocker, who was appointed by the governor to fill a vacancy when Republican treasurer Barbara Thomas of Dixon resigned. Morris hasn’t yet decided whether to run for re-election, and so far, no Democrat has filed.

• Incumbent Associate Circuit Judge Colin Long, a Waynesville Democrat who serves in the magistrate division of the court.

• Incumbent Associate Circuit Judge Greg Warren, a Richland Democrat who serves in the probate division of the court.

At the state level, Circuit Judge Mary Sheffield, a Rolla Democrat, has filed for re-election. Sheffield currently serves as the presiding judge of the 25th Judicial Circuit, and before being elected circuit judge in 2004, had served several decades as an associate circuit judge in Phelps County.

No Republicans have filed for any of the three judicial posts. Judicial races are rarely contested, but that hasn’t always been the case locally. In 2004, Rolla attorney Bill Hickle filed as a Republican but lost to Sheffield; in 2006, Waynesville attorney David Lowe filed as a Republican but lost to Warren.

Also at the state level, 148th District State Rep. David Day of Dixon, who serves most of Pulaski County, and 147th District State Rep. Don Wells of Cabool, who serves the Big Piney area of far southeast Pulaski County as well as Texas County, both filed for re-election on the first day but face no opposition in the Republican primary. So far no Democrats have filed for either position.

State Sen. Frank Barnitz, a Democrat from the community of Lake Spring in Dent County, is seeking re-election to the 16th State Senate District. He faces no challenger in his party’s primary, but Republican candidate Dan W. Brown of Rolla filed to replace him. So far, Brown has no opposition in the Republican primary.

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