On the write track for DA?

Assistant DA Andrew Hughes files to be write-in candidate

Keywords: Poll question,

Though the Republican primary race for the 22nd Judicial District attorney position is still up in the air, awaiting the results of a recount scheduled for Monday, a write-in-candidate has thrown his hat into the ring for the general election.

Andrew Hughes, assistant district attorney for the 22nd Judicial Distirct, filed an affidavit of intent with the Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday to certify his name as a write-in candidate for the 2012 general election.

Hughes serves as assistant DA under current DA Russell Wasley, who was defeated in the June Republican primary election by local defense attorney Will Furse. Furse received 1,941 votes to Wasley’s 1,923.

Wasley has exercised his right to request a recount, based on the narrow 18-vote margin.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Hughes said he filed his paperwork to run for the legal office ahead of the recount due to filing deadlines. Thursday was the last day to file paperwork to run as a write-in candidate. However, Hughes does not intend to seek the office of DA if the recount overturns the GOP primary results and Wasley is declared the victor.

“Out of respect for (Wasley) and his recount, I really wanted to let him go through that process, but the deadlines required I file the paperwork,” Hughes said. “I believe in loyalty to my superior and I maintain my loyalty to Mr. Wasley. I will not run if the recount overturns the results.”

Hughes said he was encouraged to put his name, or a space for his name, on the ballot by Wasley supporters who were unhappy with the results of the primary election.

“I made the decision at the request of a number of the people in the community,” he said. “Frankly, a number of people approached me who were very disappointed in the outcome and they heard about my level of experience and know me as a person and strongly urged me to participate.”

Hughes, 57, has 25 years of experience as a prosecutor and moved to Cortez in 2004 to aid then-DA Joe Ott with a major murder case. Hughes stayed with the DA office through January of 2007, serving as assistant DA to Ott and the late Jim Wilson. He rejoined the office in January of 2011, under Wasley.

In the interim, Hughes worked as a federal prosecutor on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation, handling criminal, social service and truancy cases.

Hughes declined to address his philosophy of prosecution of vision for the DA’s office, asking to wait until the recount is finished and he determines whether or not his candidacy is official. He did, however, indicate a difference in his approach to the office from the current DA.

“I do have my own independent thoughts from my own experience and my own vision for the future of the office,” he said, again noting he would not run if the recount reverses the primary results.

The names of write-in candidates do not appear on election ballots. Voters have the option of physically writing the candidate’s name on the ballot and county clerks are authorized to count the written names as official votes.

“When we certify ballots, we will let the clerks know so they will include a write-in line on the ballot and then any votes for Andrew Hughes will be counted,” said Andrew Cole, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Reach Kimberly Benedict at kimberlyb@cortezjournal.com.