What a primary night!
The total turnout is a whopping 41.4%
That comes out to over 281,000 votes, or 98,000 fewer than the 2017 Special Election and 12,000 fewer than the 2016 Primary.
A silver lining is that so far, turnout this year is already 62,000 more votes than it was in 2014.
People thought turnout might be a few percentage points higher than usual, meaning around 35-37%.
Turns out that was the case.
So what do these results tell us?
Let’s get into them, focusing on statewide races, then some legislative races that people have been looking at, and finally the Missoula races.
Federal, Statewide and Regional Races
I thought Fagg would win the race with 46,000 votes, or 34%. Turns out it was Rosendale, however.
Politico called the race around 11:30 PM for Rosendale, when he had 33.5% to Fagg’s 29.4%.
Here's how it stood at 1:15 AM:
- Rosendale: 47,952 (33.5%)
- Fagg: 41,190 (28.8%)
- Downing: 27,529 (19.2%)
- Olszewski: 26,362 (18.4%)
Total GOP Primary Vote: 142,375 (58.2%)
Total Dem Primary Vote for Tester: 100,738 (41.2%)
Total Green Primary Vote: 1,427 (0.58%)
So this is a serious problem for Democrats, the fact that 42,000 more voters showed up today to vote for a Republican for the U.S. Senate than showed up to vote for the Democrat.
Now, many probably didn’t vote for Tester because he had no primary opponent. We know, however, that 2,900 more Democrats voted in the U.S. Senate race than in the U.S. House race.
2,900 just ain’t gonna get you up to the 42,000 votes needed, nor will the Greens and the 1,400 votes they took.
Tester has a serious problem here, and I’m not convinced the $12 million he’s raised so far will save him.
After all, Downing raised the most money in the U.S. Senate primary for the GOP, but came in a distant third.
Tester’s only consolation is that he’s facing Maryland Matt, someone the Dems can attack the hell out of for the next few months.
But again, that just doesn’t seem to drive up the turnout for them.
If Democrats don’t get serious about going back to the drawing board over the summer, then Tester has a very good chance of losing this race.
I thought Heenan would win this one with 35,000 votes, or 39.7%.
Turns out Kathleen Williams came out of nowhere and the race is still too close to call.
Here’s how it stands at 1 AM:
- Williams: 32,914 (33.5%)
- Heenan: 31,890 (32.5%)
- Kier: 23,107 (23.5%)
- Moss: 4,919 (5%)
- Meyer: 3,143 (3.2%)
- Pettinato: 2,088 (2.1%)
Total Dem Primary Votes: 98,061 (43.4%)
Total GOP Primary Votes for Gianforte: 126,631 (56%)
Total Green Party Votes: 1,391 (0.6%)
Here’s another turnout problem for Dems, and a big one.
This was their hot ticket race this primary, the one that should have gotten everyone to vote.
But the GOP still turned out 28,000 more voters than the Dems did…and this with Gianforte being unpopular because of the assault charges.
And I just don’t see independent and right-leaning voters warming up to Kathleen Williams, a woman that gained traction over the past month by calling for more gun control.
As I said, this one is close to call.
And once again, we see that the likely winner didn’t raise the most money.
Williams raised around $215,000 for this race, compared to Heenan’s $773,000 and Kier’s $652,000.
One thing that must hurt is that Pettinato raised $66,000 but got fewer votes than Meyer, who didn’t have to file reports because he raised so little.
Another oddity was that Moss – someone that dropped out in April – got 5% of the vote. Yes, so far over 4,900 people voted for her.
What does that tell us?
I’m not sure, but I have to keep coming back to the turnout.
Dems are falling up short in all categories. We often say that Montana is a red state with small islands of blue, and election night once again proves that.
The two following races show us once again that the PSC races are Democratic graveyards.
But le’ts start with Republican Rob Cook, who had raised over $16,000 for this race when we looked a month ago.
His closest competitor was, Randy Pinocci with around $7,000.
With all but 1 precinct in we can safely say that Pinocci took this one, with 35% to Cook’s 31%
Pinocci’s Democratic opponent, Doug Kaercher, had raised about $10,000 and he got 14,435 votes.
So it’s a safe bet this race will go to the GOP in November, as they managed to turn out 9,000 more voters than the Dems did.
Brad Johnson got 23,429 votes, and the last time we looked he was taking it easy on the ol’ fundraising game, with just about $3,000 raised.
Shirtliff had about $7,000 raised and Suzor-Hoy had over $13,000…though much of it was from loans to himself.
Shirtliff took the race, 68% to Suzor-Hoy’s 19%, with Speich getting 13%...despite not raising much money.
The problem remains the same, however – Dems got just about 12,000 to vote in this race, compared with the 23,000 the GOP turned out.
Democrats often talk about better energy policies in this state, but when it comes time to win those elected offices, they just can’t do it.
Clerk of Supreme Court
This race has to be a slap in the face to the Helena Bubble.
For 23 years, Rex Renk served as Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court under Ed Smith, a guy that won this race time and time again.
Renk raised over $21,000 for this race the last time I looked, a lot more than Bowen Greenwood’s $5,000.
And it didn’t mean diddly-squat.
With over half of the precincts reporting around 12:15 AM, this is how it stood:
- Greenwood: 108,974 (58.5%)
- Renk: 77,255 (41.5%)
I really didn’t think that Greenwood would do so well, but I guess he is the former Executive Director of the Montana Republican Party, so he has connections.
He also writes thriller novels and sells ‘em on Amazon.
If he keeps it up, he might have to put the eBooks away for a time and focus on what could be a new job in Helena.
Yep, Democrats must be smarting this one!
Legislative Races Around the State
Over in Billings, Gianforte’s old campaign manager – Aaron Flint – put up a list of races that Mike Dennison was keeping an eye on.
It’s worth a look, and I’ll give you the results of some of those races below.
This Helena race had Democrat Janet Ellis with around $20,000 raised, compared to her primary opponent, Michael Uda, who had about $10,000.
And the money and the name-recognition won out.
Ellis got 1,493 votes to Uda’s 297 votes, or 83% to 17%.
None of the precincts have fully reported as of 12:30 AM, but I think this one is over.
The GOP candidate is John Schmidt, who’s raised about $3,000.
This looked to be an interesting primary race between three Republicans, with Jason Ellsworth so far in the lead, 41% to Pat Connell’s 35%, or 1,727 votes to 1,482 votes. Scott McLean has taken 999 votes so far, or 24%.
Looks like Ellsworth will win this one, which is good, considering he put $50,000 of his own money into the race.
There is no Democrat running in this Hamilton-area race.
As of 12:45 AM, this race is too close to call.
There’s no Republican, just Democrats Mary Caferro and Robert Farris-Olsen.
Caferro has 503 votes to Farris-Olsen’s 403, or 56% to 44%.
Complete Results as of 9 AM
There’s been little in the way of campaigning for this seat so far, as none of the three candidates have a primary opponent.
Still, the primary results are telling when it comes to the possible general election outcome.
First of all, the Green Party candidate – which would be me – wasn’t even a factor in this race.
I got 29 votes. In fact, it might well be the lowest vote total in the whole state.
I’m not surprised by that number in the slightest. I thought the most I’d get might be 50 votes.
Lots of people – myself included – voted the Democratic ballot so we could vote in more of those local races, like county commissioner and sheriff.
Diane Sands won the race for the most votes overall, picking up 2,715.
Republican Chase Reynolds got 1,945.
- Dem: 57.9%
- GOP: 41.4%
- Green: 0.06%
I suspect those numbers will hold firm come November, though the Greens might be off the ballot by then.
Once again, the Greens proved to be a complete non-factor, and I feel that’ll hold true until November.
Dems will still stop at nothing to rid themselves of this perceived threat, possibly hurting themselves will progressive voters for years to come.
It was a day for the ladies in the two crowded Missoula House races. In this one, Katie Sulivan pulled it off over former city councilman, Patrick Weasel Head, 722 votes to 400, or 50% to 27%.
I was sure that gun control advocate, Nancy de Pastino, would win this, but she came in second.
Turns out Connie Keogh took it with 1,503 votes to de Pastino’s 1,057, or 53% to 37%.
This 3-way GOP primary turned into a nailbiter, with current officeholder, Mike Hopkins – who’s also the Montana Republican Party Treasurer, and son of the head of the Missoula County GOP – barely holding on.
He got 407 votes to Smith’s 403 and Dunham’s 181, or 41% to 41% to 18%.
So Hopkins will be around for another term in the legislature, as Dems have no hope of gaining this seat.
This race wasn’t even close, nor did I expect it to be…despite Bell’s mailers.
Kim Dudik got 1,102 votes to Bell’s 287, or 79% to 21%.
Dudik might have a closer race in November, as this one typically comes down to a few votes.
If she wins, she’s got a clean shot to run for the open AG seat in 2020.
Democrats think they can regain this seat, which Adam Hertz picked up two years ago.
Hertz got 899 votes, and had about $10,000 raised when we last looked.
Winter has raised around the same amount, and his 1,152 prove this will be a hot Missoula race come November.
In fact, I think Dems have a chance to switch this seat back after losing it in 2016.