Wheeler defeates Kite, Schmidt in Assembly 39 race
MINDEN, Nev. – Assembly District 39 challenger Jim Wheeler defeated incumbent Kelly Kite by fewer than 200 votes on Tuesday night.
“This is 100 percent because of the people I had helping me,” Wheeler said. “It shows you can use a grassroots campaign. That you don’t have to have a bunch of money.”
Wheeler estimated he was outspent by opponents Kelly Kite and Gary Schmidt by a factor of 10 to 1.
“It comes down to the people who helped me,” he said. “It’s that simple. I just hope I can justify their faith in me.”
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Wheeler received 2,718 votes to Kite’s 2,526. Dayton resident Gary Schmidt received 1,971 votes.
As the winner of the Republican primary in the newly reformed Assembly District 39, Wheeler will go on to the general election to face Independent American David Schumann.
Kite was philosophical about the hard-fought race.
“It only takes one,” he said of the closeness of the race. “The vote is in. I’m really proud of everybody who volunteered, and helped me. I want to thank the voters of the district for their support.”
Schmidt, who outspent both Wheeler and Kite, said he felt he’d changed the direction of the campaign.
“I changed the tone of the campaign,” he said. “By the end both Kite and Wheeler were talking about transparency, the Constitution and listening to the people. They both emulated my message.”
Schmidt wished Wheeler well in the future.
“Now that Wheeler won, I don’t have to support the Independent American,” he said. “People said I was splitting the anti-Kite vote, but I don’t strategize that much. I’m of the nature that we need more people voting and more people running.”
Wheeler wasn’t the only Douglas County challenger to win the election on Tuesday, but he was the only one to vanquish his opponent completely.
Challenger Barry Penzel received 2,515 votes to incumbent Mike Olson’s 2,088 in the primary race. Challenger Indian Hills General Improvement District Trustee Dianne Humble received 839 votes. Penzel and Olson will meet in the general election in November.
Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer Ted Thran said the election went smoothly, as did counting.
“Everyone balanced out early, and once we started counting we were flying,” he said.
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