BEND, Ore. - It's been a heated race between Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty and challenger John Hummel, with plenty of charges and counter-charges over the past several months. But in the end, in voters' eyes, it wasn't even close.
It was thought to possibly be a tight race, but when the first numbers were released around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, it was a clear win for Hummel, with 60 percent of the vote, to 40 percent for Flaherty -- a margin that held up through the last ballot count of the night early Wednesday.
There were cheers, hugs and teary eyes at Hummel's election party as months of campaigning paid off for the campaign.
"And I look forward to working with you for the next four years," Hummel told a cheering crowd at his election party.
"We're super-excited we've been working hard," Hummel told NewsChannel 21. "We had over 200 volunteers getting out there talking to people about one simple fact: that Deschutes County is a great place. We can keep people safe, not just by prosecuting crime but by preventing crime in the first place. "
You could feel the relief in the air when the results came in, as well as the surprise that the win was so overwhelming.
Hummel told NewsChannel 21 the first thing he wants to do is sleep in, after nine months of campaigning -- and then he is excited to get ready to serve as DA next year.
Flaherty, meanwhile, told NewsChannel 21 he was disappointed with the outcome of the race, but also the way Hummel conducted himself throughout the campaign.
With 10,000 ballots left to count, Flaherty trailed Hummel by about 20 percentage points. County Clerk Nancy Blankenship said percentages rarely change that much in ensuing counts.
Flaherty said voters made a decision based on information many people know is "outrageously false," including Hummel claiming to be a prosecutor, and the number of trials he's taken before a jury.
"We're in the truth and justice business," Flaherty said. "That's what I do. It's what I've done for 25 years. John Hummel lied to the public, and he did it using thousands of (campaign advertising) dollars that he collected from out of our community."
Flaherty said the DA's office has done great work over the four years, which was reflected by all the endorsements he had from law enforcement agencies.
But clearly, the headline-grabbing troubles of his early term -- letting all of predecessor Mike Dugan's prosecutors go, lawsuits and subpoenas and costly settlements -- weighed heavily in many voters' minds.
And so, for the second time in four years, Deschutes County voters have elected a new chief prosecutor.