Two newcomers joined three incumbents Tuesday in winning Republican primary races for five Sedgwick County judgeships. Because none of the five faces a Democratic challenger in November, the winners will take office in January.
Among the winners was Dave Dahl, a longtime color man for Wichita State University basketball radio broadcasts. He scored high marks in a recent attorney survey by the Wichita Bar Association and The Eagle.
The other winning newcomer was Stephen Ternes, a Wichita lawyer who has extensive experience in civil, probate, juvenile and family law.
The three winning incumbents were Phillip Journey, Patrick Walters and William Woolley.
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Dahl and Ternes both said hard work and generous volunteers served as the basis for their successful campaigns.
“I knocked on a lot of doors in the heat, and I think that worked,” Ternes said as he watched the returns on television with friends and relatives.
Dahl said he went door-to-door every weekend — and a lot of weekdays — for four months as he campaigned for the office.
He said he had the help of hundreds of volunteers, more than a few of whom were Shocker basketball fans.
As a candidate for office, Dahl had to give up his broadcasting job last year, but he said he hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll try to return to the broadcast booth.
“I haven’t even asked the question yet,” he said. “This was a matter of first things first.”
Two of the incumbent judges up for election faced challengers this year after scoring poorly on the Bar Association survey.
One of the two, Phillip Journey, maintained about a 10 percentage point lead in the Division 1 race over challenger Linda Kirby, a Wichita lawyer seeking her first elected office.
The other, Patrick Walters, maintained an even larger lead in the Division 14 race over deputy Sedgwick County public defender Jama Mitchell and longtime Sedgwick County lawyer David Nelson.
The third incumbent up for election, William Woolley, won the Division 23 seat by handily defeating challenger David Calvert, who was seeking to regain a seat he last held in the 1980s.
Dahl defeated Faith Maughan in the Division 2 race and will fill a seat being vacated by retiring judge James Burgess
Ternes was the victor in the Division 20 race and will fill a seat being vacated by retiring Judge Clark Owens. He defeated chief Sedgwick Public Defender Steve Osburn, who is best known for representing BTK strangler Dennis Rader and Scott Roeder, who was convicted of murdering Wichita abortion provider George Tiller
Those familiar with Sedgwick County judge races say an endorsement from the Kansans For Life political action committee gives any judicial candidate a major boost in Sedgwick County — particularly in a Republican primary election. The PAC’s endorsements this year went to Ternes, Walters, Woolley and Maughan. The PAC’s voters guide noted that Journey, Kirby and Dahl were all abortion opponents, though Dahl’s name was not mentioned in the guide.