Mark D. Hurlbert, the prosecutor who brought a felony rape charge against Laker star Kobe Bryant only to see the case fall apart days before trial, narrowly won the race for Colorado 5th Judicial District Attorney.
Hurlbert, a Republican who was appointed to the job in 2002, defeated challenger Bruce Brown, a Democrat with no experience as a prosecutor, 18,863 votes to 17,687. The 5th Judicial District includes four mountain counties -- Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek and Lake.
In Eagle County, where Bryant was arrested in July 2003, and charged with sexual assault after an encounter with a 19-year-old hotel worker, Brown claimed a slim victory, 8,280 votes to 8,264.
Hurlbert, 35, spent more than $400,000 to prosecute Bryant. The case was dismissed Sept. 1 after the accuser said she would not testify and Bryant signed a letter of apology.
"I know people are going to say Kobe Bryant" was the reason the vote was so close, Hurlbert said Wednesday. "I don't think it was. The case was a maturing process for me, though. I thought I had an idea of what prosecuting a high-profile case like that would be, and I really didn't."
Hurlbert said the topic of Bryant rarely came up during the campaign.
"Nobody I talked to asked, 'Why did you spend all that money?' or said filing the charge was a bad idea," he said. "Generally, people here in Eagle County are sick of it and want to move on."