Fallon Files as Write-in Candidate for County Commission Seat

After losing the Republican primary by 40 votes to incumbent Pam Holmquist, Jack Fallon has decided to run in November’s general election

By Micah Drew
Candidate for Flathead County Commissioner Jack Fallon pictured in Kalispell on May 6, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

In what would have been an uncontested general election for county commissioner, incumbent Pam Holmquist is now facing an opponent.

Jack Fallon, who ran against Holmquist in June’s Republican primary race, has filed as a write-in candidate for the District 2 County Commissioner.

“In all cases, whether the general, the recount or the provisional ballot count, the election was done with integrity,” Fallon said. “But I think what’s been in the back of my mind is that it was so close. It’s definitely worth another try.”

In the primary election, Fallon led in the initial count by four votes, 7,405 to 7,401 for Holmquist. A tabulation of the county’s 307 provisional ballots pushed Holmquist to a 42-vote lead, and a requested recount gave the incumbent a final 40-vote margin.

Only 21,317 individuals voted for a commissioner candidate in the primary election, out of more than 77,000 registered voters in the county. Fallon said that a candidate winning with less than 10% support from voters was not representative of the county.

“Maybe that’s the biggest motivator,” Fallon said. “People need to get out, understand what’s going on with their elected officials and vote.”

Holmquist said that close primaries aren’t unusual in the county commissioner race, pointing to Commissioner Brad Abell’s three-way primary race that was decided by just 88 votes in 2020. Commissioner Randy Brodehl won his 2018 primary by just 157 votes.

“Once a primary is over, Republicans get behind the candidate that won,” Holmquist said. “This just shows Jack is not a Republican, because the Republican Party, and all those I know and speak to are squarely behind me.  If he was [a Republican], he’d be squarely behind me.”

As a write-in candidate, Fallon’s name will not appear on the ballot, and it will be up to a voter to correctly fill out the ballot. In the paperwork filed with the county, Fallon submitted around two-dozen variations of his name that will be considered official when votes are tallied. He added that one of the biggest struggles while campaigning will be educating voters on how to successfully follow directions to vote for him.

“Write-in campaigns are largely not successful, so it’s going to be an uphill battle,” he said. “That’s fine, but because of the close primary, it just seems like there’s potential.”

While a write-in campaign has never been successful in a national election, some high-profile state level candidates have pulled them off, including Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who won the general election after losing the GOP primary.

Holmquist said that she has started putting campaign signs back up and has already received funding support from the county’s Republican organizations.

In the primary, the Flathead County Republican Central Committee targeted Fallon and other candidates in Republican primaries for legislative seats for not representing “Republican Values, Conservative Principles and Republican Voters,” according to an endorsement mailer.

“It didn’t surprise me and it didn’t bother me,” Fallon said about the un-endorsement. “To me the GOP platform for the last 50 years has been how to make things work. I’m fiscally conservative, and I hold people accountable and responsible and those are conservative values.”

Fallon has served on community boards since 1987 when he joined the Evergreen Water and Sewer board. He has also served on the Evergreen Fire District board since 2007 and is a decade into his second stint as a Kalispell Public Schools trustee.

In the primary, Fallon ran on a “pipes, plows and public safety” platform, advocating for infrastructure to ensure a clean water supply as well as adequate road maintenance, as well as prioritizing public safety.

In the months since the primary, the county commissioners unanimously approved the budget for the next fiscal year. The public safety allocation included funding for a new sheriff’s deputy and detention officer, short of Sheriff Brian Heino’s request for seven additional deputies.

“The principal thing that I find disturbing is not pursuing adequate funding for the sheriff’s department,” Fallon said. “When you only have four or five frontline deputies per shift, you need to have more. Safety is what we’re always looking for, along with lowering response times.”

Both Holmquist and Fallon will be campaigning through November’s general election with the winner serving a six-year term on the commission.

“I think I’ll win this general and I’m looking forward to serving,” Holmquist said. “I think the county is in good hands.”