Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder candidate Candace Rivera defeated four-term incumbent Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz in the Democratic primary Tuesday night.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Rivera led Ortiz with more than 69% of the vote, tallying 10,536 votes compared with 4,641 votes for Ortiz.
Initially elected in 2006, Ortiz is in his fourth four-year term as clerk. Rivera, a first-time candidate, has a background in criminal justice and victim advocacy.
"My background is in coming to people in their time of need ... It is our time of need in Pueblo County, so I want to be there to help the people," Rivera said during a watch party Tuesday at the southside Graham's Grill.
Former City Council member Randy Thurston was among those at the watch party who was elated to find out Rivera had a 5,000-vote lead after the first batch of votes was reported around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"I know this sounds crazy, but I consider this one of the most important elections we've ever had ... Bo Ortiz has been in this position for 16 years, and Bo has a lot of hidden agendas," Thurston said.
Ortiz's election management has come under fire several times in recent months, including a series of mistakes on Pueblo County primary ballots that led to Colorado Secretary of State Jenna Griswold appointing an election supervisor to oversee the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder's office for the primary election.
Nathan Baxter wins Republican clerk and recorder primary
After her victory in the Democratic primary, Rivera will be challenged by Republican Nathan Baxter in November.
Baxter defeated Sarina Adame with more than 60% of the vote in his party's primary, tallying 7,606 votes to Adame's 4,973 votes, according to results from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.
Both Baxter and Adame were newcomers to politics. Baxter has two decades of experience in operations management, and Adame has a background in accounting and social work.
After the first batch of votes was reported, Baxter said he was pleased with voter turnout and results. He said he was glad Adame was his opponent in the primary because she was a strong candidate that forced him to run a strong campaign.
"Judging by the numbers, we have a lot more people in Pueblo than what would traditionally be supporting a non-Democratic candidate and particularly a non-Bo Ortiz candidate. It looks like Candace Rivera is having a very good race on the Democrat side as well," he said.
"It looks to me like the winds in Pueblo, Pueblo County are shifting a little bit, and I certainly hope that's the case."
Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at JBartolo@gannett.com.
This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Candace Rivera defeats Bo Ortiz in Pueblo Democratic primary