Randy Brodehl earned the most votes of the four Republicans contending for the Flathead County Commission seat, ousting the incumbent and setting the former legislator up for the general election in November.
Brodehl earned 31 percent of the vote with 5,238 ballots cast in his favor, eking out a victory over Gerald “Jay” Scott, who took 30 percent of the vote with 5,081.
Incumbent Commissioner Gary Krueger came in third, with 3,390 votes, followed by Ronalee Skees with 3,132 votes.
Brodehl advances to the general election in November, when he’ll face the lone Democrat running for the commission seat, West Valley businessman Tom Clark, who drew 6,204 votes in his uncontested primary.
“It was a nail-biter,” Brodehl said the afternoon after the election. “It was a nail-biter all evening long. We went to bed at 1 a.m. thinking it was relatively secure but even when I woke up I wasn’t sure.”
With a narrow margin of just 157 votes separating the two front runners — out of more than 16,000 cast — the primary race marks the second consecutive time that Scott has come close to the commission chair but fallen short. Before he won the general election in 2012, Krueger beat Scott by 18 votes to take the primary.
Brodehl is a veteran politician in the Flathead, having served as the representative for House District 9 in Evergreen since 2011. He termed out of the state House in 2017, and decided to run for the commission.
Winning the Republican primary means Brodehl will square off against Democrat Tom Clark for the seat in the November general election.
He said he planned on taking a couple of weeks to enjoy family, especially with a pending visit from more than a handful of grandchildren. He also thanked the people who worked on his campaign.
“We had so many folks helping us and working along side us to get this done, and every person who worked with our campaign had an impact on how the success came out,” Brodehl said.
The general election is Nov. 6.