Northwest Montana Almost Handed Johnson PSC Primary Win

By Beacon Staff

The state’s election office announced Tuesday that there will be no recount in the Republican primary race for Montana’s public service commission district 5 seat, the winner of which will represent several counties, including Flathead.

The contest between former Secretary of State Brad Johnson and Helena Attorney Bill Gallagher was surprisingly close, considering that Johnson was arrested just weeks prior to the election for drunken driving, suspended his campaign and checked into rehab.

Gallagher’s margin of victory was razor thin, garnering 11,083 votes, or 50.17 percent, to Johnson’s 10,951 votes, or 49.57 percent. It’s hard to say whether those who voted for Johnson were unaware of his recent arrest, or simply didn’t let that influence their decision.

Johnson did well in northwest Montana, winning Flathead, Glacier and Lake counties. Here’s the results from the Montana of Secretary of State’s office:

Flathead County
Bill Gallagher – 5,069 (46.07%)
Brad Johnson – 5,913 (53.74%)

Glacier County
Bill Gallagher – 127 (34.7%)
Brad Johnson – 239 (65.3%)

Lake County
Bill Gallagher – 1,688 (49.47%)
Brad Johnson – 1,707 (50.03%)

If Lewis & Clark County hadn’t overwhelmingly voted for Gallagher, Johnson would have earned the Republican nomination while still in rehab.