Dennis Smith, the sheriff in Dunn County, fended off a primary challenger on Tuesday even after his deputies claimed they had no confidence in his leadership.
Smith has been through many campaigns in his 14 years as sheriff, but perhaps none have been as contentious as the run-up to this week's Democratic primary against Dunn County Medical Examiner Chris Kruse.
In July, the local police union released a statement saying: “Smith lacks the capacity required to effectively lead and manage the department.”
Despite the vote of no confidence, Smith won with around 56 percent of the vote in the primary. He said that he's hopeful the department can move on.
“It takes two people to have a struggle or have a fight. I’m not going to fight with people about their unhappiness,” he said. “If they are mad because of how the election came out, there’s the door. They can go someplace else to work or they can at least try to get along with me.”
Kruse, Smith's challenger, had also highlighted a series of embarrassing incidents over Smith’s years as sheriff, including a misplaced squad car and service pistols which went missing but were later recovered.
Smith said Kruse insinuated he may be losing his memory and was unfit for the job.
“We used to be friends, but we’ll still have to do our investigations, he’ll still have to determine cause of death on people as a medical examiner, and he’s got a good bedside manner with families,” said Smith. “He’ll keep doing his job and we’ll keep doing our job and everybody should get along.”
Sheriff Smith will run unopposed in the November general election.
Editor's Note: Kruse did not return calls for comment on this story.