MT Politics 2014: Primary Thoughts

It was primary election day on Tuesday and that means it’s almost as great a Super Bowl Sunday for me! I hope you voted for the candidate of your choice! If you were a candidate, thanks for running.

Here are some of my thoughts about the main races: U.S. Senate and U.S. House.

It did not take long for Representative Steve Daines to win the Republican primary for U.S. Senate here in Montana. The race was called for Daines around 8:35 p.m.

A few minutes after 9:00 p.m. Democratic Senator John Walsh was declared the winner of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. In a statement received here at The Western Word (TWW) Walsh said, “We know what’s at stake with this election, and we will keep holding broken Washington – from our own Congressman to the White House – accountable.”

I did not receive a statement from the Daines campaign.

Daines and Walsh were already on a collision course. Now it’s official and they have Libertarian Roger Roots to contend with this November. Daines is considered the favorite, but there are a few things that can make this race interesting:

-Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate race in Montana since 2000.

-Walsh is pretty much unknown, so I expect this race to draw closer as we move into September and October.

-With a Libertarian in the race he may take valuable votes from Daines, just as Libertarians took votes from Denny Rehberg in 2012 and Conrad Burns in 2006.

In the race for Montana’s only U.S. House seat, Democrat John Lewis was declared the winner a few minutes after 10:00 p.m. He will face the winner of the five-way Republican race and Libertarian Mike Fellows.

After the victory, Lewis issued a statement that was received here at TWW in which he said, “This race will be about the future of Montana and sending someone who is accountable, responsible and willing to work together on solutions to make life better for all working families.”

The race that had the most attention last night was on the Republican side with Ryan Zinke, Corey Stapleton, Matt Rosendale, Elsie Arntzen, and Drew Turiano vying for the spot.

Zinke was declared the winner by the Associated Press around 1:15 a.m. this morning.

Zinke was attacked from fellow Republicans and from those on the left during the campaign. He also suffered swift-boat style attacks from fellow veterans. Former Congressman Rick Hill and former state senator Ken Miller attacked Zinke day after day. Hill backed Arntzen and she finished fourth of out of five candidates. Miller backed Stapleton or Rosendale or Arntzen.

Note: If anyone lives close to Hill or Miller, please conduct a welfare check on them this morning to ensure they did not harm themselves after the Zinke victory.

Early on, Zinke and Stapleton traded the lead back and forth with Rosendale slowly moving up. By 10:00 p.m. Zinke had a 2000 vote lead over Stapleton with several key counties still not counted. Around 10:30, Rosendale moved slightly ahead of Stapleton with Zinke’s lead increasing to 3,400 votes.

By 11:15 p.m. Zinke had a 3,756 vote lead. I had a leftover pork chop for a snack. Right after midnight, Zinke led Rosendale by about 4,480 votes with 42% of the precincts reporting. At 12:45, Zinke was up by 4,500 votes over Rosendale. At 1:15 a.m. the Associated Press declared Ryan Zinke the winner.

The Zinke campaign sent a statement to TWW saying, “Now it’s time to unite together, not only as a party but as Montanans committed to solving our nation’s problems and getting our economy back on track. I look forward to continuing to share my positive message, and joining you again in victory this November.”

At 1:20 a.m., Cascade County (Great Falls) did not have any results posted on the Secretary of State’s website – once again Cascade County comes in last (of the larger Montana counties). There is something seriously wrong with the Cascade County Elections office.

I went to bed about 1:30.

Note to Montana candidates left standing: Please add TWW‘s e-mail to your press list. Feel free to send TWW all your campaign-related information. Please follow me on Twitter @TheWesternWord.


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  1. I found it interesting that Cundiff got more votes than Edmunds in the GOP House primary.

    • Dave – So did I. I don’t think she campaigned much at all and she received almost 12,000 votes. -JmB

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