Republicans dominate state, local elections

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | November 11, 2020 7:00 AM

Republican Brad Abell easily won the District 1 Flathead County commissioner race in Tuesday night’s election, 38,226-20,246, over Democrat Kristen Larson as results were completed about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Braxton Mitchell also defeated incumbent Democrat Debo Powers in the House District 3 race in Tuesday night’s election, 3,578-2,387.

Powers was appointed to the post last year after Democrat Zac Perry resigned to pursue his education.

In the Senate District 2 race, Republican Carl Glimm of Kila beat Democrat Kyle Waterman of Kalispell, 8,740 to 4,057.

For the first time in decades, the district, which covers Columbia Falls and surrounding areas, including the Canyon, will be represented by someone who doesn’t actually live in the district.

Waterman didn’t live here, either. He lives in Kalispell and is a city councilman.

In other local results of importance, the 911 levy passed, 31,091-26,821.

The new levy will do away with the old system, which, in effect, charged residents who lived in the cities twice for 911 service.

The election results locally followed the trend statewide, as Republicans won all the major state races. Greg Gianforte won the governor’s race over Democrat Mike Cooney, incumbent Steve Daines retained his Senate seat over Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock and Republican Matt Rosendale defeated Democrat Kathleen Williams.

Voters also approved the use and sale of recreational marijuana, joining a host of other states that already allow it.

While President Donald Trump won Montana easily, Democrat Joe Biden was announced the winner of the presidential election, though the Trump campaign has yet to concede, filing a flurry of lawsuits in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, where the vote put Biden over the top.

State reaction to Biden’s win was mixed.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines, whose campaign on Thursday sent a text to supporters alleging that the “Dems are stealing the election,” did not immediately recognize Biden as the president-elect.

“There’s still ballots being counted, and there are still legal challenges being considered. It’s not settled yet,” Katie Schoettler, a spokeswoman for Daines’ campaign, said in an email Saturday afternoon. “If we want [the] public to be confident in the outcome we need to make sure the process is completed and all legal votes counted.”

On Twitter, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester congratulated Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on their “momentous victory” and said he looks forward to “working with them to move this country forward.”

“We must come together and focus on what connects us, not what divides us,” Tester wrote.

Montana’s Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton posted on Twitter a statement of support for Trump, but said Biden had won the election.

“I have supported you, Mr. President, we (Montana) have supported you — and [President Trump] accomplished some incredible things during your time in office,” Stapleton posted. “But that time is now over. Tip your hat, bite your lip, and congratulate [Joe Biden].”

Meanwhile, Montana’s Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who lost his bid for Daines’ Senate seat, also congratulated Biden and Harris and called for unity.

“At a time when our country is deeply divided, we must remember all we have in common as Americans, and that together, we can work toward a future of healing and of prosperity,” Bullock said in a tweet.

“We must protect the integrity of our elections and ensure that every legal vote is counted,” Gianforte said in a statement on Facebook.

It is important to note that Montana, like other states that are being contested by Trump lawsuits, also had a mail-in ballot with a turnout of nearly 81 percent.

Reporter Chad Sokol contributed to this story.