By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Voters in Hill County sided with the victors in both the presidential and gubernatorial races, choosing to re-elect Republican George W. Bush and to elect Democrat Brian Schweitzer.
Hill County chose Bush over Democratic candidate John Kerry by 500 votes, and Schweitzer over Republican candidate Bob Brown by more than 1,400 votes. Neighboring counties followed the same trend as Hill County and the state, though by different margins.
Bush received 3,505 Hill County votes, and Kerry 2,997. Schweitzer received 3,886 votes and Brown 2,407.
Statewide, Bush received 265,732 votes to Kerry's 173,410, while Schweitzer received 224,646 to Brown's 205,053 votes.
Blaine County chose Bush by a narrower margin than did Hill County or the state, with 1,484 votes for Bush, to 1,300 votes for Kerry. Liberty and Chouteau counties chose Bush by much greater margins.
Hill County residents opposed I-147 by strong numbers, with 62 percent against and 34 percent in favor of lifting the ban on cyanide mining. Montanans defeated I-147 with 256,807 voters opposed to lifting the ban and 185,887 in favor.
U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg outpolled Democratic opponent Tracy Velazquez in each county, and by a large margin, except in Blaine County, where voters gave Rehberg 1,516 votes to Velazquez's 1,161.
Some voters in Hill County explained their choices during interviews Tuesday outside their polling places.
Eric Holmes is 37 and a locomotive engineer. His opinion on I-147 represented the choice made by the majority of voters in Hill County, and the state.
"I'm amazed how much money they spent trying to get cyanide in here. It's awful," he said.
Holmes shared his other choices: "I hope John Kerry will win. My guy has never won before."
His state and local picks fared better. He voted to re-elect incumbent Rep. Bob Bergren, D-Havre, who won in Hill County by a large margin, and for Schweitzer for governor, he said.
Dennis Hinkle is 59 and a retired railroad engineer. Though he fought in Vietnam and called the war in Iraq "scary," he said he was not for switching presidents in the middle of a war. "I'd rather keep pulling with the one we've got," he said.
Ilse Wagner is 75 and works at McDonald's. She said she made a different choice. "The Bush has got to go," she said. She cited a recent trip to Europe as one of her reasons. "Usually when I go there everybody just loves us; now everybody is against us."
Tom Geelan is 67 and retired. He said he voted for Kerry and Schweitzer because he said he is "tired of the rule now and how things are." He also voted for Mike Anderson for Hill County commissioner and Cyndee Peterson for Hill County attorney. Both are Democrats and both were elected Tuesday.
Geelan voted against the medical marijuana initiative and against the gay marriage ban. "I don't think it needs to be written in the constitution," he said.
The constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman passed in the state, with the support of the majority of Hill County residents. The marijuana initiative also was approved by Montanans.
Geelan said the only initiative he voted for was the dollar tax on cigarettes, an initiative that passed.