Welborn, Hansen advance to general election

The ES&S 650, a ballot counting machine purchased by the county in 2012 for $42,000, has malfunctioned in both elections since it was obtained from the out-of-state firm. J.P. Plutt photo


Beaverhead County voters chose Jeff Welborn over Brooke Erb by a surprising margin in a Republican primary election race for House District 72, while incumbent sheriff Jay Hansen edged Republican challenger Paul Oldynski in a remarkably close primary challenge. The votes were tallied following the June 3 primary election.

In other local developments, voters in Lima voted against a local government review of that municipality, 44-36, but City of Dillon voters requested the local government review, 507-325. For Beaverhead County, it is too close to call. Following the initial tally of votes, voters wanted a county government review by just 7 votes – 1,178 to 1,171. There were 11 provisional ballots left to be tallied and an election canvas set for June 16.

According to Beaverhead County Election Administrator Debbie Scott, application of election rules dictate that if following the canvas and the difference is within 5 votes, a citizen could petition the county for a recount. The petition would have to be filed within five days of the June 16 canvas to become valid.

The Republican race for state representative for House District 72 drew a great deal of attention in the weeks leading up to election day. Numerous out-of-county flyers were mailed to local voters – funded by dark money – that were highly critical of the candidates in the race. With the temperature turned up, an aggressive campaign followed with challenger Brooke Erb attempting to unseat three-term incumbent Jeff Welborn. Welborn won the race by an almost 2 to 1 margin – 1,603 to 835. Welborn will face Democrat Norma Duffy, who received 247 running unopposed of the Democratic ballot. Should Welborn win his fourth two-year term, he would term in 2016.

Hansen won 11 of 16 precincts but registered a slim 185 vote victory over challenger Paul Oldynski, a former Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Deputy. Hansen totaled 1,228 votes to 1,043 for the challenger and advances to face third party candidate Frank Kluesner in the general election.

In statewide races, Beaverhead voters favored Democrat John Walsh and Republican Steve Daines in the U.S. Senate race, agreeing with the rest of the state. Walsh is the former Montana Lt. Governor appointed to fill Sen. Max Baucus’ seat in early 2014. Daines currently holds Montana’s lone U.S. Representative seat.

For the U.S. Representative position being vacated by Daines, Beaverhead Democrats selected former Max Baucus staffer John Lewis, who won the state-wide primary race. Beaverhead Republicans voted for Matt Rosendale while Ryan Zinke earned the nod to advance to the general election on the state-wide ballot.

According to Beaverhead County Election Administrator Debbie Scott, there were 2,802 total ballots cast, with 11 provisional ballots remaining to be counted.


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