Ann Maher Mar. 18, 2014, 8:04am

One of the most closely watched races facing voters in Madison County is a showdown for top cop.

Incumbent Sheriff Bob Hertz said Monday that he had been busy campaigning over the weekend and planned on making calls in the evening seeking support for re-election to a fourth four-year term.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” he said. “That comes with a political occupation, especially when you have an opponent who thinks he can do better.”

Hertz and challenger John Lakin, Glen Carbon police chief, are seeking the Democratic nomination in today’s primary. The winner will go on to the General Election in November and could possibly run unopposed, depending on whether Republicans slate a candidate.

Lakin said he had been walking neighborhoods over the weekend, as well as employing phone banks to reach out to voters.

His supporters, which include area union groups, are “energized” and eager to help, he said.

“Volunteers are all over the community spreading the word,” he said. “People are ready for a change.”

The contest, which began late last year, has been marked by big spending and personal barbs.

Local asbestos attorneys at the Simmons firm in Alton and Gori and Julian were split in their support, with the former breaking away for Lakin and the latter sticking with Hertz.

John Simmons and Jeffrey Cooper each contributed $5,000 to Lakin last month.

Records from the Illinois State Board of Elections show that on Monday, Randy Gori and wife Beth Gori contributed $10,000 to Hertz. He also received $5,000 from Belleville personal injury firm Keefe and Keefe and $2,500 from Edwardsville attorney Joseph R. Brown.

In letters to the editor published in the Record in recent days, Lakin stated that Hertz has used his office for personal use.

Hertz stated he was “saddened” by the “pack of lies and political smears” being spread by Lakin.

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