The second time was the charm for Dr. Brent Blue on Tuesday night as he won his race for the Teton County Coroner’s office after an unsuccessful run four years ago.

Blue, who ran as a Democrat, led the race throughout the evening as he defeated his forensic anthropologist opponent Russell Nelson.

“I look forward to working with the county attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office and the Jackson Police Department to really begin making this a scientifically based office,” Blue said after the results were in. “I think this shows that the voters believe that the coroner should be someone who has medical training, even though the law doesn’t require it.”

Blue, who defeated Deputy Coroner Dave Hodges in the primary election earlier this year, ran throughout his campaign on the strength of that assertion, even filing under the name “Brent ‘Doc’ Blue” to drive home his credentials as a general and emergency physician.

He pitched his skills, including his experience communicating with families, as more broadly suited to the work of coroner than Nelson’s expertise in forensic anthropology, which he called “too narrow” for the job.

During the campaign Blue noted his opponent was one of the expert specialists he would call in should he run across skeletal remains.

The coroner’s job is to investigate unattended deaths and determine the identity of the deceased and the cause of their death, among other things.

Blue’s approach kept him the leader all night by about the same margin that gave him the eventual victory.

At the end of the night Blue was elected with 4,210 votes, slightly more than half of the roughly 8,000 ballots cast.

Nelson garnered 3,441 votes, and 57 voters opted for unnamed write-in candidates.

Before or shortly after taking office, Blue must attend a coroner’s training course at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, which he said would be useful in brushing up on the legal requirements of his new job.

After that, Blue said, he hopes to revamp the coroner’s office into “a model coroner’s office for the rest of the state.” That includes improving public access to the information resulting from coroner investigations.

A call to Nelson’s cell phone was not answered Tuesday night following the election.

Along with his work as a forensic anthropologist, Nelson works as a wildlife guide and a ski instructor.

Blue operates the Emerg-A-Care medical offices, recently relocated from Powderhorn Mall to the Sports Authority complex on Broadway.

Blue, an acknowledged abortion provider, was visited Monday by anti-abortion protestors, including Mark Holick, who was a leading figure in controversial protests against Blue in 2011 and 2012. That aspect of Blue’s practice drew widespread attention during the 2012 campaign, when now retiring coroner Kiley Campbell ran as the “right to life” coroner against Blue.

Police prepared for protestors to show up at polling sites in the hopes of influencing the election, but election day protests failed to materialize.

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

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