With no Democrat filed for the Nov. 6 general election, voters in Cole County's Republican primary next Tuesday will decide who will be the next Division 1 circuit judge.
And there are only two choices: Incumbent Jon Beetem, 53, seeking a second six-year term, or challenger Steven M. Kretzer, 34, currently an assistant prosecutor in Camden County who previously served as a Cole County assistant prosecutor.
Kretzer joined the race on the March 27 filing deadline because "I didn't feel like there should be an unopposed judge's race."
Beetem was selected as the GOP's candidate six years ago, after filed candidate Clyde Angle was killed in a traffic accident.
Beetem then unseated incumbent Democrat Thomas J. Brown III in the 2006 general election, by 2,315 votes out of 29,453 votes cast.
"It's my honor to serve the citizens of Cole County, as I have for the last six years," Beetem said in a recent interview. "I enjoy the job. It's intellectually challenging.
"We get interesting cases here. We get good lawyers in Cole County."