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Cascade County Sheriff election results: Incumbent Jesse Slaughter wins against challenger Jay Groskreutz



Sheriff Jesse Slaughter photographed at the Cascade County Sheriff's Office in Nov. of 2021.

Incumbent Sheriff Jesse Slaughter is the unofficial winner of the Sheriff’s Office Republican primary with 100% of the ballots in on Tuesday night.

Slaughter won with a significant margin against opponent Corporal Jay Groskreutz, with Slaughter winning 9248 of over 13,000 total votes.

Both officers have been in public service in Montana for at least 20 years, with Groskreutz working in differing roles within the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office and Slaughter having experience in Stillwater County and at the Great Falls Police Department before coming to the CCSO.

Slaughter ran for re-election as a Republican. Slaughter ran in 2018 as a Democrat but announced in 2021 that he was switching parties.

Slaughter said at a public debate in April that although he ran as a Democrat in 2018, he was abandoned by the party in 2020. He said that the Sheriff has been a Democrat in Cascade County for over 80 years and that in conversations with previous sheriffs, he spoke about being embraced by Republicans even before he switched parties, including by Gov. Greg Gianforte.

While Slaughter ran for re-election based on the track record of his first administration, Groskreutz said he was seeking to change the culture at the detention center with more open communication and openly criticized Slaughter’s management of the facility based on conversations with staff.

The Montana Human Rights Action Network published a report in May accusing Slaughter of siding with far-right organizations with roots in anti-government militia, racism and anti-Semitism.

Slaughter publicly identified himself as a “constitutional sheriff” multiple times, including before the legislature, at candidate forums and on broadcasts by Montana Gazette Radio (MGR). In its eight-page report, MHRAN criticized him for appearing on MGR alongside figures such as Richard Mack and espousing similar beliefs.

Mack is the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. MHRAN said he was on the board of the Oath Keepers, which are accused of planning the Jan. 6 capitol riots, and he edited a book by Randy Weaver, who engaged in the Ruby Ridge standoff.

The report is called “Slaughtering the Constitution: Cascade County Sheriff Embraces Sheriff Supremacy.”

Slaughter told KRTV that he saw nothing wrong with the term “Constitutional sheriff,” saying to him, it meant his oath. He distanced himself from Mack saying that he didn’t think of him as “anything remarkable.”

There was a little drama at the ExpoPark Tuesday with a man wearing a hat in support of former President Donald Trump trying to wear it to vote, but being asked to take it off in order to comply with electioneering laws outlined in the Montana Code Annotated, Clerk and Recorder Rina Moore confirmed.

Moore said three deputies asked him to remove the hat and he said that it was “against his rights.” The officers escorted him out the door and he took his hat off and came back in and voted.

She said that after it was all said and done he shook hands with the officers.

Moore and poll workers put in nearly 24 hours of work at the ExpoPark on Tuesday. Moore said the main reason ballot counting went so late, past 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, was because of required counting of write-in ballots.

She said sometimes folks would write-in candidates from one party on another party’s ballot, which Moore explained does not add to the candidate’s official total, but election officials are still required to track them. Moore said things went very smoothly during the day and they were happy with that.

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