Incumbent wins do-over election in Clay County

Larry C. Larson on Tuesday held back a second challenge from Bonnie Sue Cooper in the do-over election for Clay County western commissioner.

Larson received 51.34 percent of the votes, compared with to Cooper’s 48.41 percent. Only 3,897 votes were cast on Tuesday. There are 72,900 registered voters in Clay County’s western district.

“I think the voters have said no to the politics of personal destruction brought by Mrs. Cooper and the Committee for a Better Northland,” Larson said. “I want to put this behind us; I want to get busy again and do whatever I can do to make Clay County the best place to live and work.”

A judge last month ordered a new election after ruling that the first contest between Democratic incumbent Larson and Republican challenger Cooper had been marred with errors — particularly in one of Clay County’s 78 precincts. Visiting Judge Daren L. Adkins of Daviess County determined that hundreds of voters received incorrect ballots. Voters were assigned to wrong precincts. Absentee ballots from one precinct were mixed in with absentee ballots from others.

Larson’s and Cooper’s names did not appear on some Western District ballots. Instead, voters were asked to choose between the Eastern District contestants.

In that race, Larson outpolled Cooper, a former Kansas City councilwoman, by 2,021 votes.

Shortly after the election, Cooper sued, calling for a new election. Larson said that even if Cooper had gotten every single vote that was miscast, she would have lost the race.

The western commissioner race was the only issue on the special election ballot.

Turnout for Tuesday’s election was just over 5 five percent, compared with 69 percent for from the Western District who those went to the polls in November. On Monday, election officials said they expected about a 7 percent turnout.

During the earlier campaign, both candidates touted their years of political experience.

Larson was elected in November 2004 when he defeated Republican Tom Brown.

Cooper said her 18 years as a Missouri legislator and eight years on the Kansas City Council gave her ample experience for the commission.