With the primary election now over, as usual I just had to crunch some post-election numbers, poking the chicken bones to get an idea of how things shook out in the primary, some clues about what the general election trends will be for local races as well as the big show in November.
There was plenty of excitement to go around, close margins for all three big primaries: the Republican U.S. Senate, Flathead GOP County Commission, and Democratic U.S. House. And a surprise.
First, overall stuff. A total of 281,416 Montanans made for 41.43 percent turnout, with Flathead at 41.26 percent. Poor turnout in Gallatin (33.9 percent) and Missoula (35.8) counties was not a surprise, as all the students are home during summer. That will change this fall after they’ve been worked over by the campus activists. Turnout champion was Liberty County (Chester) at 74.7 percent, while the worst turnout was also on the Hi Line, Roosevelt (25.1) — all the reservation counties except Lake had lousy turnout.
This year, we also had the option of voting Green. Well, 1,574 votes were cast statewide for Tim Adams and Steve Kelly, meaning 216,842 (99.45 percent) of ballots went straight to the dumpster — oops, recycler. Maybe it’s time to come up with a way to discreetly ask for your party ballot up front?
In the Senate GOP race, Flathead winner Al Olszewski also won Blaine, Choteau, Lake, Prairie and Toole counties. Russell Fagg won Big Horn, Custer, Deer Lodge, Golden Valley, Meagher, Musselshell, Rosebud, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Treasure and Valley counties, with an outright majority in Yellowstone County (57 percent and about 10,000 more votes than Rosendale).
Fagg and Rosendale tied in Garfield County, while Troy Downing didn’t win anything.
Matt Rosendale won 37 counties, with Dawson County (53 percent,) and Richland (56 percent) giving him a majority.
There seems to have been a definite “homeboy” effect in Kalispell, Billings and Glendive. Downing apparently wasn’t anybody’s homeboy.
In Flathead County, 27,452 ballots were marked, but not every race on every ballot. The U.S. Senate race saw 26,219 votes — 18,370 GOP, 7,700 Dems and 149 for Greens.
In the U.S. Congress race, unopposed Greg Gianforte still got 15,917 against 7,409 for the six Dems running. In the commissioner race, 17,612 votes went in the Republican commissioner primary versus 6,204 votes for unopposed Democrat Tom Clark. I imagine Randy Brodehl is happy, Gary Krueger is not — but Mr. Clark can’t be that happy, either, with his November chances.
Now for the surprise: 25,079 people weighed in on the Egan Slough zoning, 17,527 to kill the bottling plant, and 7,552 to let it go forward.
How in Hades could this, almost an exact flip from what one would expect given the GOP/Democratic split in ballots cast, and the supposed Republican respect for property rights, happen?
Sure, the biggest margin against the plant came from Precinct 47, which is north Whitefish, not Creston, with 84 percent for the zone change. On the other end was Precinct 26, which is Bitterroot Lake and Lost Prairie, 60 to zone/40 against.
What about my grassy, gravelly, farm-y, business-y, flaming-Republican Precinct 7? Sixty-two percent for shutdown, 361-207, while breaking out otherwise: Rep/Dem commissioner, 412/129; Rep/Dem U.S. House, 381/153; Rep/Dem U.S. Senate 434/162. Conservative GOP legislator Matt Regier received 368/124 over his Democratic opponent Kwen Shirley? Are you kidding me?
I’d like to remind my fellow Flathead County Republicans, at least seven-some thousand, of part of the Fifth Amendment: “No person shall […] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
There’s nothing about “except when Judge Allison rules the county commission must assume a reverse burden of proof or put it to a popular vote.”
Here we are, facing the fat possibility that an after-the-fact taking for public use will be decreed by the court system, requiring some impressive “just compensation” — with lots of commas and zeroes that all of Flathead County will be liable for.
Will of the people? Sure, but I expected “my people” to show their willingness to defend their cherished principles.