Davis County Sheriff Glenn Clary will decide by noon Thursday if he will mount a write-in campaign against the sergeant in his department who beat him in the June primary.
"I'm not 100 percent committed to it, but I'm leaning toward it," Clary said Tuesday. "I'm probably going to do it, although I'm not familiar with how a write-in campaign works."Clary said he's had "hundreds of people approach me and say they thought I had it sewn up in the primary and didn't come out to vote. I've had a lot of people, both outside the (sheriff's) department and from within the department ask me to run."
Rob Davis, a sergeant in the patrol division, beat Clary by a 55-45 percent margin in the primary for the Republican nomination. There is no Democratic candidate so the primary victory essentially assured Davis of the office.
Davis said there have been rumors around the department that Clary might run a write-in campaign, but he had dismissed them as just that - rumors.
"I thought it was over," Davis said Tuesday. "But if he wants to do that, we'll gear up our campaign again. I think it would be wasted effort. Write-in campaigns rarely work."
Clary cited several issues leading him to consider a new campaign. They include liens filed against Davis by the Utah Tax Commission and what Clary said was misrepresentation by Davis of his support within the 220-member sheriff's department.
One of Davis's main campaign themes was his contention he could better manage the department's $2 million annual budget, citing his business degree from Weber State University.
Clary supporters challenge that expertise on the basis of liens filed by the state in 1985-86 and 1990.
The first lien, Davis said, was for between $2,000 and $3,000 because his wife, a self-employed court reporter, underestimated her income. The lien was paid off within a few months, Davis said.
The 1990 lien, for between $400 and $500, was for deductions the state disallowed on her previous year's tax return, Davis said, and it, too, was paid off.
"We're honest people. We pay our taxes. The first instance is a decade old. It's ancient history," Davis said. "The tax codes are complex, and it's not unusual for someone who's self-employed to run into a problem in trying to follow them.
"Since then, I've graduated with my business degree and I think we're older and wiser now," Davis said.
As for the claim that 83 percent of the department's patrol division supports him, Davis says it is true and not misleading.
"That's a perfectly true statistic," Davis said. "We didn't poll the civil or detective divisions because they're small. But I also believe that 99 percent of the dispatchers and 50 percent of the jail division also supported me," he said.
Clary supporters say the patrol division, which numbers just over 30 deputies, does not represent the entire 220-member department and that the 83 percent support claim is misleading.
"The guys on patrol are the ones on the street. They're the ones who deal with the criminals," said Davis.
If Clary does decide to mount a write-in effort, Davis said the campaign could be rougher than the pre-primary clash.
Clary, Davis said, gave his word after the June primary that he would support Davis as the GOP candidate and pledged a smooth transition of power.
"It's unfortunate that he's gone back on his word. It's time the Republican Party gets together and supports its candidate, which is me," said Davis. "I think it's opportunistic on the part of the sheriff to do this.
"If it goes to a write-in, I'm not going to sit back and be as nice as we were during the primary. The gloves will come off. We can bring some things to light here in the department that are absolutely true," Davis said.
Clary said he did, indeed, pledge support to Davis but is having second thoughts.
"I was initially resigned to the fact that I was retiring," Clary said. "But I would like to have one more term as sheriff, if the people of the county will support me.
"I'm not too satisfied with what I see on the horizon."
As for damaging the party, Clary said he doesn't see it that way.
"I'm a Republican and have been all my life. There's no Democrat running and I wouldn't do this if I thought it would split the party vote and allow a Democrat to get in. I don't see any harm to the party," said Clary.