In the ongoing saga of the contentious Hennepin County Sheriff’s race, Sheriff-elect Dave Hutchinson has retained legal counsel in case defeated Sheriff Rich Stanek asks for a recount.
On Tuesday, the county’s canvassing board certified Hutchinson as sheriff. He won the election by 2,340 votes, a small margin of victory but not one that requires an automatic recount.
Stanek has seven days to request a manual recount, but it would cost him $95,000. He hasn’t made a decision on a recount, and said he wants to look at voter data before taking any action.
“Pursuing a recount is not in the best interest of the Sheriff’s Office or the residents of the Hennepin County,” Hutchinson campaign spokesman Jeremy Zoss said in a statement.
“While we are hopeful that a recount will be avoided, we have taken the precautionary step of retaining Fredrikson & Byron to assist our campaign in the event that outgoing Sheriff Rich Stanek calls for one.”
Right now, Zoss said, Hutchinson’s team is “focused on a smooth and transparent transition and beginning the work of addressing mental health and immigration concerns within the Hennepin County system.”
Hutchinson’s victory arguably was the biggest upset in Minnesota’s midterm election. Stanek has been sheriff for 12 years, and Hutchinson is a sergeant with the Metro Transit Police Department.
Continued speculation about the possibility of a recount damages the integrity of the electoral process and distracts from the important work of ensuring a smooth transition, Hutchinson said in the campaign’s statement. He added that a recount would take the focus off the important work of the Sheriff’s Office and risk hurting deputies’ morale.
“Sheriff Stanek has the right to request and pay for a recount,” said Kevin Riach of Minneapolis-based Fredrikson & Byron. “Given the margin of victory, and the canvassing board’s certification, we are confident the result will not change.”
Hutchinson offered his gratitude to Stanek.
“I appreciate Sheriff Stanek’s congratulatory message Tuesday,” he said. “I thank Sheriff Stanek for his years of service in the Sheriff’s Office, and I look forward to working with him during the transition.”