While statewide results were still trickling in for Tuesday’s primary election, Yellowstone County posted final but unofficial results a little before 11 p.m.
In the Republican primary, Yellowstone County Commission candidate Don Jones had 11,552 votes to Mike Black’s 8,880, meaning Jones will challenge Democrat Robyn Driscoll in the General Election in November.
Driscoll, who was appointed to complete the term of Bill Kennedy, who resigned to lead the MSU Billings Foundation, ran unopposed. Jones is a former state legislator and former Billings City Council member.
In the race to become the judge in the 13th Judicial District’s newly created Department 7, in Yellowstone County, the top two finishers in a five-way race were Colette Davies, a partner at Bishop, Heenan & Davies and a former Municipal Court judge, and Thomas Pardy, a deputy city attorney for Billings’ civil division. They will square off in November.
In the Democratic primary for the state Legislature, progressive candidates came out on top in virtually every contested race. In Senate District 22, Jennifer Merecki had 1,164 votes to 447 for her opponent, David Graves. Merecki will challenge incumbent Republican Doug Kary in the fall.
Merecki said voters showed that “they want somebody different … somebody for the middle class.” She said the progressive message, with its emphasis on “kitchen-table issues,” should resonate well in the General Election, too.
In House District 49, political newcomer Emma Kerr-Carpenter, a community education coordinator at Youth Dynamics, had a big margin of victory — 720 votes to 338 — over her opponent, School District 2 Superintendent Terry Bouck. Kerr-Carpenter will run against Republican Stephanie Krueger in the fall.
Another progressive Democrat, Amelia Marquez, outpolled Dusty Deering by 546 votes to 294 in House District 52, setting up her General Election run against Rodney Garcia, who ran in a contested Republican primary against Deborah Rowe, whom he outpolled 512 votes to 468.
“It’s exciting to be part of the progressive movement right now,” Marquez said. To win in November, she added, “we need to get out there and work on voter registration, above all.”
In another contested race on the Democratic side, for House District 50, Jade Bahr won a decisive victory over Joshua Bradshaw, 615 votes to 287. Bahr will run against Republican Quentin Eggart for the seat formerly held by Democrat Virginia Court, who was term-limited out this year.
“I just think it’s the people talking,” Bahr said. “I’m stoked.”
And in the Democratic primary in House District 56, Janna Lind had 545 votes to 151 votes for Dan Gold. Lind will run against Republican Sue Vinton in November.
In a rare Republican contested race, in House District 46, former U.S. Attorney for Montana Bill Mercer defeated Josiah Loven by 1,956 votes to 257. Mercer will run against Anne Giuliano in November.
In the county auditor race, Scott Turner won by a large margin, capturing 11,808 votes to 7,820 for Matt Rich. Turner was appointed auditor and was running in his first election. The only Democrat running for auditor was Becky Riedl.
In another new judgeship, this one Department 8, the only two candidates were Juli Pierce and Ashley Harada. Pierce, who received 19,766 votes, and Harada with 13,053, both automatically advance to to the General Election.
For complete Yellowstone County results, go here.