Dave Hutchinson Poised To Become First Openly Gay Sheriff In Midwest

The 39-year-old progressive appears to have narrowly defeated pro-Trump Sheriff Rich Stanek in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Dave “Hutch” Hutchinson on Wednesday appeared to have narrowly defeated three-term incumbent Sheriff Rich Stanek in Hennepin County, Minnesota, all but guaranteeing his title as the first openly gay sheriff in the Midwest.

After an incredibly tight race, the 39-year-old veteran police officer declared an unofficial victory over Stanek, a President Donald Trump supporter whose critics say he was too amenable to federal immigration authorities.

By early Wednesday morning, 100 percent of the county’s precincts had reported their election results, suggesting Hutchinson had won roughly 2,300 more votes than Stanek, a former Minnesota House Republican.

Though some local media outlets have called the race for Hutchinson, an official winner likely won’t be certified by the Minnesota secretary of state’s office until Nov. 13.

“We’re very excited,” Jeremy Zoss, a spokesman for Hutchinson’s campaign, told HuffPost of the election results on Wednesday. “We are pretty shellshocked at the moment. We were facing an incumbent who has been in office for 12 years, who had really strong name recognition and just a massive cash advantage.”

“We always viewed this as an underdog race,” he continued. “But we had the energy on our side. It was a very strong night for Democrats in Minnesota.”

Hutchinson’s campaign had adopted a progressive approach to race, focusing on increasing transparency within Minnesota’s law enforcement and embracing immigrant communities throughout the state. During the campaign, he pledged to end the sheriff’s office’s current relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and said deputies would no longer ask individuals whom they come into contact with about their immigration status. 

“He’s married to an immigrant. This is personal for him,” Zoss said. “When he says he wants all people to feel safe to approach the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, he 100 percent means it.”

Zoss said he believes a historic win for Hutchinson would send an important message about inclusivity to the Midwest and the rest of the country.

“Representation matters,” Zoss said. “Things that used to be taboo in politics aren’t anymore. People want genuine, real people as their elected officials.”

Stanek had not yet reached out to Hutchinson’s campaign as of Wednesday morning, Zoss said. A representative for Stanek did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment about whether he planned to contest the results of the race.

Matt Ferner contributed reporting.