Sunday, April 14, 2024
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More candidates enlist before Monday deadline

by KRISTI NIEMEYER
Editor | March 14, 2024 12:00 AM

Monday’s deadline evoked a last-minute flurry of candidate filings at the local election office and with the Secretary of State.

Four Republicans, plus an Independent, are now vying for the District 3 Lake County Commission seat held by Gale Decker (see separate story about a challenge to the incumbent’s eligibility). Republican Max Krantz filed Monday, joining Decker, Josh Senecal and Wes Baertsch; Independent Kelly McDonald also jumped into the race Monday.

No other candidates filed to challenge Lake County candidates Mary Rensvold (Clerk of Court), Kendra Steele (Clerk and Recorder) Erika Jennison (Treasurer/Assessor).  Incumbent Lake County Conservation District representative Curt Rosman now faces Zoe Lilja in that non-partisan race.

District Court Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher, who has served four terms in office, faces Polson attorney Britt Cotter in her reelection bid. Judge Molly Owen is unopposed in her quest to remain on the bench.

Local legislative races became more interesting, with Republican Senator Greg Hertz facing a challenge from Democrat Craig Pablo of Polson in Senate District 7; and Republican Tracy Sharp up against Democrat Barry Olson of Bigfork in House District 12.

Democrat Jacinda Morigeau of Arlee filed for Senate District 46, creating a three-way primary with Gwen Nicholson of Missoula and C.B. Pearson of Milltown. The winner faces Arlee Republican Charles Headley in November’s general election.

In House District 15, Republican Ralph Foster of St. Ignatius now faces Democrat Thedis Crowe of Browning.

HD 13 is unchanged, with incumbent Republican Linda Rexsten facing Democrat Shirley Azzopardi; both reside in Polson. In HD 91, former Tribal Councilwoman Shelly Fyant of Arlee takes on Republican Rep. Joe Read of Ronan.

Also on the ballot

At the federal level, four more candidates joined the race to unseat Democratic Sen. Jon Tester:

Democrat Michael Hummert, Green Party members Robert Barb and Michael Downey, and Libertarian Sid Daoud. The field also includes Republicans Brad Johnson, Charles Walkingchild Sr. and Tim Sheehy.

The contest for Western District Congressman drew one more candidate, with Ernie Noble now facing Dennis Hayes in the Libertarian primary. Republican Mary Todd is posing a primary challenge to incumbent Ryan Zinke; and Monica Tranel is the lone Democrat in the race.

The race for governor also grew more heated, with Republican incumbent Greg Gianforte in a primary race against Tanner Smith of Lakeside; and Democrat Jim Hunt opposing Ryan Busse. Also running is Libertarian Kaiser Leib.

Another Libertarian, John Lamb, will challenge Republican incumbent Christi Jacobsen and Democrat Jesse James Mullen for Secretary of State.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen now faces a primary challenge from Logan Olson; the winner is up against Democrat Ben Alke in the general.  

State Auditor, a seat being vacated by Troy Downing, is suddenly popular, with Republicans James Brown, Steve Gunderson, John Jay Willoughby and Keith “Brownie” Brownfield seeking a primary victory. The winner faces Democrat John Repke.

Democrat Al Dunlap filed to face Republican Jennifer Fielder in the race to represent District 4 on the Public Service Commission.

Supreme Court positions also saw an uptick in candidates, with incumbent Clerk of Court Bowen Greenwood now facing fellow Republican and state legislator Jason Ellsworth, Libertarian Roger Roots, and Democrats Erin Farris-Olsen and Jordan Orphus.

The nonpartisan race for Supreme Court Chief Justice has three candidates, Jeremiah Lynch,

Cory Swanson and Doug Marshall; and Jerry O’Neil joined the race for Supreme Court Justice no. 3, against Katherine Bidegaray and Dan Wilson.