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Primaries decide some local elections, send others to November contest


Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

Becky Toth votes in Havre High School's gym during Montana's primary elections Tuesday.

Voters decided some contested races in the area during the primary election Tuesday, including a couple of incumbents fending off challengers and upsets in others.

In Hill County, election officials finished counting the 3,576 total votes at 10:45 p.m.

In the Democratic county attorney primary, Deputy County Attorney Karen Alley came ahead of her opponent, local attorney Randy Randolph, with 1,115 votes to Randolph's 776. Alley and Randolph were both unavailable for comment this morning.

Incumbent Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson won the Democratic primary against his opponent, Dana Kjersem, with 1,028 votes to 849. Peterson and Kjersem were both unavailable for comment.

In Liberty County, challenger Davin Buffington unseated Angel Colbry in the Republican Primary for Clerk and Recorder 432-347, while incumbent Treasurer/Assessor Denise Wanken fended off challenger Rachelle Fenger 580-195. The winners face no opposition in the general election.

In the Chouteau County Republican Primary, state Rep. James O'Hara, a former commissioner in the county, lost in his bid to unseat incumbent Robert Pasha. Pasha won 751-487.

Republican incumbent Sen. Russ Tempel of Chester defeated Brad Lotton, Havre businessman, in the primary election with 1,693 votes and Lotton coming close with 1,543.

Tempel said in a phone interview this morning that he "would like to personally thank all the people that had voted for me and thank Brad Lotton for his competition."

"It was just a good race and I look forward to the general," he added.

But Tempel was defeated in Hill County, with Lotton accumulating 742 votes and Tempel 491.

"Russ ran a good race," Lotton said. "I didn't quite get over the top, so I want to thank all my voters that did support me. I appreciate it very much and maybe next time. Republicans need to get behind Russ so we retain the seat. So I want all my supporters to come together and give Russ a hand."

"It was my first run. I'm fairly happy with it," Lotton added.

Tempel will be facing off with Bear Paw Development Corp. Executive Director Paul Tuss, a Havre Democrat, in the general election. Tuss, who was unopposed in the primary, received 1,417 votes.

For the race of House District 27 that includes Liberty, western Hill, Chouteau and part of Cascade counties, Joshua J. Kassmier of Fort Benton was victorious over his opponent Darrold K. Hutchinson of Hingham winning with 1,281 votes to Hutchinson's 1,080.

Hutchinson won the majority votes in Hill County with 270 votes and Kassmier coming behind with 91.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

Jeremy Hofman, with his son, Sam, 5, votes in Havre High School's gym during Montana's primary elections Tuesday.

"I would just like to thank everybody for the support and opportunity to be a Republican candidate for House District 27," Kassmier said. "I will work hard to represent everyone and always do what's right for Montana. I am very, very grateful for all the votes and support I received last night."

"My local community supported me in a big way and his local community supported him in a big way, but they have the populous to push him over the top," Hutchinson said.

Kassmier will advance to face Democrat Dan Nelson, also from Fort Benton, who ran unopposed in the primary election, receiving 707 votes.

In the race for Public Service Commissioner in District 1, which runs from Toole County down to Cascade County and east to the North Dakota border, Randy Pinocci of Sun River won with 8,130 votes. Rep. Rob Cook of Shelby took 7,260 votes, while Mark Wicks of Inverness took 4,665 and Cory McKinney of Great Falls had 3,430.

Pinocci now faces Doug Kaercher of Havre in the general election. Kaercher, who was unopposed in the Democratic Primary, took 14,435 votes.


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