A pair of Republican legislative candidates whose unorthodox entry into their races raised hackles around the Klamath Basin have handily won over their challengers.
Former Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum has handily defeated county museum manager Todd Kepple by more than 20 points to win the state Senate seat in the 28th District currently occupied by three-term Republican incumbent Doug Whitsett.
Likewise, business owner E. Werner Reschke has won a three-way race over former Klamath Commissioner Al Switzer and non-afilliated candidate Jonah Hakanson for the House District 56 seat.Reschke took nearly 50 percent of the vote, with Switzer taking 40 percent and Hakanson getting 10 percent.
Linthicum and Reschke drew unwelcome attention when they filed for their respective offices just minutes before the end of the filing period last March. The next day, Doug Whitsett and his wife Gail -- who currently holds the House District 56 seat -- both suddenly announced their retirement. That left Linthicum and Reschke without Republican challengers in a district where badly outnumbered Democrats often don't bother to challenge popular incumbents.
After failing to beat the pair with a hastily-put-together write in campaign, Kepple and Switzer -- both registered Republicans -- won write-in nominations on the Democratic ballot line.
Linthicum and Reschke -- who describe themselves as "constitutional conservatives" -- ran well to the right of their more moderate challengers. Their brand of uncompromising conservatism seems to have resonated with voters in these largely-rural districts with a history of conflict over natural resources and government land management.
The question of whether the controversial beginning to their campaigns would prompt voters in this very red district to vote for Republicans running as Democrats appears to have been answered, in the negative.