Rick Reigenborn (Adams County Sheriff's Office)

Adams County sheriff ousted in primary; most Denver metro counties to have new sheriffs after November election

Rick Reigenborn (Adams County Sheriff's Office)
Rick Reigenborn (Adams County Sheriff’s Office)

An incumbent sheriff lost his seat in Tuesday’s primary election, setting the scene for a swath of new sheriffs to take over law enforcement operations in many of the biggest counties in metro Denver.

Adams County Sheriff Rick Reigenborn trailed his challenger and former employee, Gene Claps, by 4,285 votes as of Wednesday. Reigenborn earned 44% of the vote and Claps earned 56% in the Democratic primary.

Although the election results are not yet final, the Adams County Office of the Clerk and Recorder only expects a few hundred more ballots to be added to the tally, county spokeswoman Julie Jackson said Thursday.

Reigenborn conceded the race in an email to The Denver Post.

“Sheriff Reigenborn has led the agency with honor and respect and will continue to do so until he leaves office on Jan. 10, 2023,” Reigenborn said in an emailed statement. “Sheriff Reigenborn has positively influenced countless employees and has made public safety his life-long mission. He is grateful to serve the citizens of Adams County, and he looks forward to his retirement from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.”

Reigenborn won office in 2018, ousting Republican Sheriff Mike McIntosh in a year when Colorado voters overwhelmingly selected Democrats.

Claps was a division chief in the sheriff’s office when Reigenborn took office. Claps and three other former top leaders in the department sued Reigenborn in 2020, alleging that he unfairly forced them out of their jobs because they backed McIntosh in the 2018 election. The federal lawsuit is ongoing.

Reigenborn made headlines this year after launching a controversial livestream and signing a deal with the “Cops” reality show.

Claps will face McIntosh, the Republican candidate, in the November election.

With Reigenborn out, at least four of the five largest counties surrounding Denver will have new sheriffs following November’s elections. Three of the incumbent sheriffs are term-limited: Tony Spurlock in Douglas County, Jeff Shrader in Jefferson County and Joe Pelle in Boulder County.

Colorado sheriffs are tasked with running county jails and also provide law enforcement services to unincorporated parts of their county.

Two of those races will be decided by those who voted in the primary.

The crowded race in Douglas County to replace Spurlock remained too close to call Thursday, with the top two contenders separated by only 646 votes. Four candidates ran in the Republican primary and no candidates ran as Democrats. Darren Weekly led the race as of Wednesday morning with 20,258 votes and the candidate in second place, John Anderson, garnered 19,612 votes.

Curtis Johnson won the Democratic primary to become Boulder County sheriff. He will face no Republican contender in November. Johnson worked for the Boulder Police Department for nearly 30 years before joining the sheriff’s office this year as a division chief.

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