HD 8 Race Getting Interesting

By Beacon Staff

James Conner’s Flathead Memo blog is worth a read today for his discovery that Dane Clark, a Democratic candidate for Kalispell’s Legislative House District 8, was at the Depot Park Tea Party Thursday with a gun on his hip, distributing literature in support of Mark French, a Republican candidate for Congress challenging incumbent Rep. Denny Rehberg. Conner also found Clark’s name still appears on the Web site of the Flathead County Republicans as a Precinct 19 committeeman. According to a GOP official Conner spoke to, Clark retired his post and the site hasn’t yet been updated to reflect that.

I saw Clark at the Tea Party yesterday, but didn’t speak to him, so it’s unclear why a supporter of Mark French (who is running to the right of Rehberg), and a former active member of the Flathead GOP would be running as a Democrat for the state House, but there is another Democratic candidate in the race: local architect and Kalispell Planning Board President Bryan Schutt. The winner of the Democratic primary goes on to face Independent Bill Jones and the winner of a Republican primary between Carl Glimm and Steve Lavin. A Democratic primary forces the candidates in that race to spend money early, whereas otherwise they might be able to sit back and watch the Republicans duke it out for the next few months. That is, of course, just a theory.

Current HD 8 Rep. Cheryl Steenson, a Democrat, is opting not to run again, but she won by a narrow handful of votes in 2007. House District 8 is obviously already shaping up as a key battleground in the battle for control of the 2011 Legislature.

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