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Monday, November 11, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Write-in candidate wins as Eastern Oregon district attorney

JOHN DAY, Ore. — Election observers predicted Mike Kilpatrick would triumph in the race for Grant County's district attorney.

They weren't going out on a limb: Kilpatrick, a Mount Vernon lawyer, was the only announced candidate for the position.

But voters — 1,716 of them, to be precise — had other ideas. They elected Portland lawyer Lee Carter, leaving Kilpatrick to come in second with 1,457 votes.

Carter's supporters say the results reflect a growing get-tough-on-crime mood in rural Grant County. In addition, some of Carter's supporters say they got involved in his campaign because of fears that Kilpatrick subscribed to anti-government sentiments that are common in this Eastern Oregon logging and ranching county of 7,500.

This is a county where voters also approved a ballot measure last Tuesday to petition Congress for title to the county's federally managed public lands. And last spring, voters approved a measure prohibiting U.N. activities in the county.

Kilpatrick, 50, said that his beliefs about government would have made no difference in handling of the prosecutor's duties.

"I just wonder what the state police are so paranoid about," he said. "They say they weren't, but their wives obviously were."

Carter, 42, was backed by a coalition that included at least two wives of state troopers based in Grant County. Carter, who works for Multnomah Public Defenders in Portland, could not be reached for comment this weekend.

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