York County District Attorney Tom Kearney was in Korey Leslie's position four years ago, a Republican challenger trying to oust an incumbent in the party primary.

But while Kearney was able to topple 24-year incumbent Stan Rebert, Leslie fell short in Tuesday's race, taking less than a third of the vote.

Kearney captured 17,273 votes, about 70 percent, with Leslie taking 7,496 votes, or 30 percent.

There were no Democrats on the ballot, but the race to be York County's top prosecutor might still be continued to the November general election.

There were 1,332 Democratic write-in votes for the position, and the top write-in candidate will appear on the ballot if he or she received at least 250 votes.

York County elections officials aren't expected to have write-in counts available until later in the week, but there had been an informal Democratic write-in campaign launched for Leslie.

Kearney on Tuesday night said he's optimistic that he received the most Democratic write-in votes, in which case he would appear on both ballots in November.

If Leslie appears on the Democratic ballot, "then I guess we'll see him in the fall," Kearney said. "If we have to face a Democrat, we'll do it."

First term: Kearney said he appreciated the confidence from voters who have recognized his focus on reducing crime and making York a safer place to live.

"I'm proud of the work we've done in the DA's office, and there are people who believe in it," he said.


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Kearney's first term has in recent months been marred by a clash with York City Police, leading to the city department's withdrawal from the York County Drug Task Force.

Leslie campaigned in part on repairing the relationship with city police, the union for which endorsed him instead of the incumbent.

But the brouhaha over the county's task force didn't seem to be the primary issue influencing Republican voters' decisions Tuesday.

"I think it was just a personality struggle," said West Manchester Township Republican Renee Montag, 62. "(Kearney) is the one with the experience. He's a tough prosecutor, just like going after all the drug trafficking in the county."

Voters' reasons: West Manchester Township voter Skip Brant said he didn't know enough about Leslie to trust him in such a demanding position, so he stuck with the incumbent.

The 68-year-old said he also appreciates Kearney's life experience and, being "a little bit older," he would rather vote for a man in his 60s instead of a man in his 30s.

One Leslie voter said his biggest concern about Kearney stemmed from the district attorney's advice to a school district trying to address student behavior issues.

Dover Township voter Terry Emig, 57, who served on the Dover Area School Board, said the district attorney lost his favor when he sided against Emig's efforts to have video cameras with audio posted on school buses.

If he's re-elected, Kearney's second term will be his last. He has pledged to serve no more than two four-year terms.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.