Flathead Legislative Filings Mounting

Contested primaries piling up for Republicans in multiple districts; Democrats vying for House District 3

By Tristan Scott
The Montana State Capitol building in Helena. Beacon File Photo

Several contested legislative races have emerged in the Flathead Valley as the 2020 field of candidates continues to take shape in advance of a March 9 filing deadline.

So far the June 2 primary election includes a four-way Republican race in Senate District 2, which comprises the North Fork Flathead River and the canyon tracking between Columbia Falls and West Glacier. Currently represented by Republican Sen. Dee Brown, who has reached her term limit and cannot run again, the open seat has drawn a cutthroat pool of Republican candidates including veteran lawmakers Carl Glimm, who has represented House District 6 since 2013 and can’t run again because of term limits, and Jerry O’Neil, who represented House District 3 from 2011 to 2015.

Norm Nunnally and Paul J. Longfield round out the field of candidates who have entered the crowded primary.

Kyle Waterman is the lone Democrat running for the seat.

All of the candidates list addresses in Columbia Falls with the Montana Secretary of State.

Meanwhile a contested Democratic primary is taking shape in House District 3, where incumbent Rep. Debo Powers has been serving since her appointment by the Flathead County Commission last October following Democrat Zac Perry’s resignation from the seat.

Powers will see her newly minted incumbency challenged by Garrett Henson, D-Columbia Falls, while Braxton M. Mitchell is the only Republican seeking the nomination.

In House District 11, incumbent Republican Rep. Derek Skees has a challenger in Dee Kirk-Boon, the former chair of the Flathead County Republican Committee. Skees won the seat in 2016 and is seeking re-election to his final term in that legislative district, which spans the lower Flathead Valley and the northeast portion of Flathead Lake. He previously represented House District 4 from 2011 to 2013.

Kalispell’s House District features a Republican primary battle between incumbent David Dunn and challenger Brian Putnam.

In Bigfork, House District 10 incumbent Rep. Mark Noland, R-Bigfork, will square off against Doug Mahlum for the Republican nomination, while Democrat Jennifer Allen has also filed.

And in Whitefish’s House District 5, a Republican contest between Catherine Owens and Shawn Guymon has emerged while incumbent Dave Fern is looking to serve a third term as one of the region’s only Democrats.

Although a primary contest hasn’t taken shape in Senate District 3, which encompasses Kalispell and Whitefish, Guthrie Quist has filed as a Democrat taking on incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Regier, a veteran legislator first elected to the state senate in 2016 after serving three terms as a representative in House District 5.

Quist is the son of Rob Quist, who in 2017 unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives.

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