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Oregon voters overwhelmingly reject candidates who backed Bundy militants

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Oregon voters decisively rejected candidates who expressed support for the armed occupation of a wildlife preserve in their county.

Candidates packed the ballot Tuesday in Harney County, where armed militants led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy took over the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve earlier this year in attempt to overthrow federal ownership of federal land.

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Voters flocked to the polls — with a state-high 72 percent of eligible voters participating — to reject candidates who expressed support for the occupiers or echoed their anti-government rhetoric, reported Oregon Public Broadcasting.

County judge Steve Grasty, who angered the militants with his critical comments throughout the six-week-long occupation, retired from his administrative position, and current county commissioner Pete Runnels will replace him after garnering 53 percent of the vote.

The militants and their supporters had demanded the resignation of both Grasty and Runnels during the occupation, along with Sheriff David Ward and county commissioner Dan Nichols, because they felt the officials were insufficiently supportive of their views and armed action.

Nichols also won re-election after deciding at the last minute to run because he thought the county needed consistency in leadership after the occupation, which divided the community.

Mark Owens, who works in the hay and farming industry, was elected to the county commission in his first foray into politics.

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The Bundy brothers and more than 20 other militants have been indicted on federal charges in connection with their participation in the occupation or a similar armed standoff two years ago in Nevada.

One of those militants, 46-year-old Corey Lequieu, pleaded guilty Thursday to using force, intimidation and threats to impede federal officers.

The others will likely be tried together beginning in September.

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Rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the militant leaders, was shot and killed in January after attempting to flee a roadblock set up by state police and the FBI during an arrest attempt.


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