A mere 19 votes decided the House District 23 primary last night. Establishment candidate Brad Hamlett lost out to candidate Melissa Smith. The city’s only Democrat primary race was an incredibly close call. Hamlett previously served in the State Senate from 2009 – 2017. Hamlett appears to have neither a website nor a current facebook page. Perhaps Hamlett was relying on his name recognition to breeze through the 2022 primary. Whatever the strategy, Hamlett lost out to Smith receiving 300 votes to Smith’s 319.
Other big winners of the night include Democrat Monica Tranel for Montana’s 1st District House seat. Tranel beat out primary opponents Cora Neumann and Tom Winter, garnering 34.853 (65%) votes. Representing Democrats for the 2nd District House seat, Penny Ronning won with 20,017 (58%) votes, beating out Skylar Williams and Mark Sweeney. Although Sweeney passed away before the election, his name remained on the ballot. Shockingly, some Democrats encouraged others to still vote for Sweeney, thus allowing the Democrats to call a convention. All respect to the friends and loved ones of Sweeney, but suggesting folks vote for a dead man rather than the living female candidate or Indigenous candidate was not a good look for Democrats. Ronning now faces a tough battle against incumbent and seditionist Matt Rosendale.
Moving into the general election in November, Democrats will need big turn-out to flip Montana back to its previous-purple splendor. Congratulations to last night’s winners!
All election results taken from: electionresults.mt.gov