KATIE OYAN Associated Press Writer HELENA
The long-awaited matchup between Gov. Brian Schweitzer and state Sen. Roy Brown became final Tuesday as both candidates easily captured their respective primaries and will meet in the general election. Schweitzer and Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger coasted to an easy win in the Democratic primary over Helena teachers Donald Pogreba and Jason Neiffer and political unknowns William Fischer and Steve White. The governor captured 91 percent of the vote with 75 percent of precincts reporting. A distant second was the ticket of Fischer and White, who earned 6 percent of the vote. Pogreba and Neiffer captured just 3 percent. On the Republican side, Brown and running mate Steve Daines earned 82 percent of the vote. Brown, whose main campaign themes have been state spending and tax cuts, has long been a foe of Schweitzer leading early legislative battles against the governor. Trailing Brown and Daines were Larry H. Steele of Great Falls and running mate Harold Luce, who had 18 percent of the vote. Schweitzer was a farmer from Whitefish who had never held office when he was elected governor in 2004, breaking a GOP stranglehold on the seat. He has since maintained strong approval ratings in the state. Schweitzer said Tuesday night that he's been more focused on his job than his campaign and will stay that way for the next few months. "The bottom line is, I've got a lot of work to finish," he said. "As you know, we've been leading the nation in producing clean and green energy. We've also been cleaning up rivers ... and we've spent a great deal of energy protecting access for hunting and fishing." Schweitzer said his proudest accomplishments include "standing up to outof- state interests trying to take away access to our streams." He also cited the dismantling of the Milltown Dam and the upcoming cleanup of the Mike Horse Dam on the Blackfoot River. Schweitzer said he has helped create jobs that offer a livable wage and will continue to do so if re-elected. But he said he doesn't plan to begin Any serious campaigning until September. "The people of Montana trust me do a four-year job," he said. "You don't sign on for a four-year hitch and give them threeand- a-half years. I've got a job to do, and I'll just keep doing it." So far, the governor has raised more than $1 million for his re-election effort. Brown, meanwhile, has raised about $200,000. The retired oilman was elected to the Montana Senate in 2006 after serving four, two-year terms in the House. Brown served as House majority whip in 2001, majority leader in 2003 and House Republican leader in 2005 when there was a 50-50 split in the chamber. Speaking from his campaign headquarters in Billings, Brown said he was "thrilled to enter the next stage of the campaign." "It's just humbling and quite an experience to see the overwhelming support we've gotten all across the state," Brown said. "I look forward to a spirited but fair campaign." He said his campaign recently received a boost in fundraising. "We're doing better," he said. "We're not going to outraise Brian Schweitzer. He's got the bully pulpit, and he's been doing this three years now. But it's not how much money you have, it's how you spend it and what your message is." Brown said he will continue campaigning from one corner of the state to another, sharing his message about lower taxes, a stronger economy and quality education. "We want real property-tax relief, not this one-time-only rebate in the mail," he said. Brown added he will work for responsible development of Montana's natural resources. "If we develop our natural resources, we can be similar to Wyoming, where their schools are new and their teachers are paid more," he said.