Shaun Winkler, White Supremacist, Has Poor Showing In Idaho Sheriff Race

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho, May 15 (Reuters) - A white supremacist who ran a long-shot campaign for sheriff in Idaho was trailing far behind his incumbent opponent late on Tuesday, according to early returns in the three-way race for the Republican nomination.

Shaun Winkler, an avowed Ku Klux Klan member and convicted batterer, had received only 40 votes in northern Idaho's Bonner County, versus 1,072 votes for incumbent Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, with 10 of 33 precincts reporting.

Tim Fry, a police officer, had 353 votes.

Winkler, 33, attracted national attention for a campaign that culminated earlier this month with a cross burning on his northern Idaho property near Priest River and a pledge to crack down on sexual predators and illegal drugs.

Winkler's supremacist sentiments, in which he has derided Jews and African-Americans, have sparked outrage in the Idaho Panhandle, where local leaders and human rights activists have struggled to shake off decades-old stereotypes of the area where the late Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler sought to establish a "white homeland." Winkler was one of Butler's trusted aides.

Bonner County Republican chair Cornel Rasor said the area, once tied to logging and mining but which now promotes tourism, was dedicated to dispelling the myth that it welcomes hate-mongers.

"The philosophy of racism and racial superiority is not acceptable here," Rasor said.

"It's frustrating that a community made up of so many unsung heroes - volunteer firefighters and emergency workers - has been damaged by people like Mr. Winkler, who know how to get media attention."

Thomas Carter, head of the Human Rights Education Institute in neighboring Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, said outbursts by Winkler and others like him would not distract the region from its goals.

"We have the same mission we've always had: respect for one another and dignity for all," Carter said.

Winkler could not be reached for comment. (Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Paul Simao)