Unofficial election results put Gianforte, Daines and Rosendale ahead on Republican side

74 percent local turnout despite pandemic changes
J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Beaverhead County, with a 74.4 percent voter turnout, put forth the favorites in the statewide primary elections in this campaign season limited by the COVID-19 restrictions.  With little chance to pound the pavement and reach out and connect with voters, underdog candidates failed to pull any notable upsets.

The Associated Press projected GOP leaders Greg Gianforte (governor), Steve Daines (U.S. Senate) and Matt Rosendale (U.S. House) as winners of their races before the 10 p.m. news hour. Likewise, Democratic hopefuls Steve Bullock (U.S. Senate) and Kathleen Williams (U.S. House) were early projected winners. The race for the nomination for governor on the Democratic ticket was the only race that proved interesting in the early hours of election night. Mike Cooney, the current Montana lieutenant governor, pulled away late from legacy candidate Whitney Williams, daughter of former U.S. Congressman Pat Williams, to enjoy a comfortable margin at 3 a.m., with a 55 percent to 45 percent edge in votes with 579 of 663 precincts reported.

The polls closed at 8 p.m. and Beaverhead County vote totals did not begin trickling in to the state website until after midnight.  Beaverhead County Election Administrator Stacey Reynolds issued final unofficial results at close to 2:30 a.m.

According to Reynolds, Dillon’s turnout of 74.4 percent was less than the 2016 Presidential Primary Election of 88.56 percent. The 2018 midterm primary election drew a 69.25 percent turnout. Both the 2018 and 2016 elections were poll elections, while this year, due to coronavirus pandemic concerns, all votes cast in Montana elections were by mail ballot.

There were no contested races on the local level on the Beaverhead County ballot, but a race of local interest in Madison County saw Kenneth M. Walsh win a decisive victory over Cindy Younkin for the open Montana House District 71 seat. Walsh scored a 2,480 to 797 win with 10 of 10 precincts reported.

Three men with ties to Beaverhead County competed for state-wide office. Jim Brown, a BCHS graduate and attorney with offices in Helena and Dillon, scored a win in the race for Public Service Commissioner District 3. Brown advanced to the general election, topping Alan H. George for the Republican nod with a 65 percent to 35 percent lead with 122 of 154 precincts reported at 3:15 a.m. Political newcomers Joe Dooling and Mark McGinley both grew up in Beaverhead County and were both on the deep GOP ballot for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat. Rosendale dominated with 48 percent of the vote with 579 of 663 precincts reporting at 3:20 a.m. McGinley (4 percent) and Dooling (6 percent) trailed their more well known opponents. Current Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton was a distant second at 33 percent of the vote.

All four elections in the area were uncontested. Jeff Welborn for State Senate District 36, Tom Welch for State Representative District 72, Carly Jay Anderson for Beaverhead County Clerk of Court, and C. Thomas Rice for Beaverhead County Commissioner District #1.

Beaverhead County Primary Election unofficial final results are:

Republican Ballot
President:  Donald Trump 2,532.  No preference 177.
U.S. Senate:  Steve Daines 2,458.  John Driscoll 177.  Daniel Larson 114.
U.S. House:  Matt Rosendale 969.  Corey Stapleton 636.  Joe Dooling 529.  Mark McGinley 452.  Debra Lamm 160.  John Evankovich 26.
Governor:  Greg Gianforte 1,635.  Tim Fox 763.  Al Olszewski 399.
Secretary of State:  Christi Jacobsen 709.  Scott Sales 619.  Brad Johnson 535.  Forrest Mandeville 243.  Bowen Greenwood 182.  Kurt Johnson 115.
Attorney General:  Austin Knudsen 1,345.  Jon Bennion 963.
Auditor:  Troy Downing 965.  Scott Tuxbury 812.  Nelly Nicol 598. 
State Superintendent of Public Instruction:  Elsie Arntzen 2226.
Public Service Commissioner District 3:  James Brown 1,776.  Alan H. George 546.
State Senator District 36:  Jeff Welborn 2,432.
State Representative District 72:  2,491.
Clerk of Court:  Carly Jay Anderson 2,526.
County Commissioner District #1:  C. Thomas Rice 2,480.

Democratic Ballot
President:  Joseph R. Biden 696.  Bernie Sanders 126.  Elzabeth Warren 83.  No preference 24.
U.S. Senate:  Steve Bullock 891.  Mike Knoles 18.  John Mues 23. 
U.S. Representative:  Kathleen Williams 825.  Tom Winter 96.
Governor:  Mike Cooney 461.  Whitney Williams 457.
Secretary of State:  Bryce Bennett 783.
Attorney General:  Kimberly Dudik 313.  Raph Graybill 534.
State Auditor:  Shane Morigeau 445.  Mike Winsor 326.
Superintendent of Public Instruction:  Melissa Romano 797.
Public Service Commissioner District #3:  Tom Woods 772.

Green Party Ballot:
U.S. Senator:  Dennis Daneke 1.  Wendie Fredrickson 2.

U.S. Representative:  John Gibney 3.
Governor:  Robert Barb 3.
Attorney General:  Roy Daivs 3. 

Non-Partisan Ballot
Supreme Court Justice #5:  Laurie McKinnon 1,516.  Mike Black 898.  Mars Scott 648.
Supreme Court Justice #6:  Jim Shea 3,003.