By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

Primary Results: Laird Beats Helland in Primary

Both Candidates Advance to General in Nov.


In a race that came down to the final precinct reports, Judge Yvonne Laird beat out Glasgow Attorney Peter Helland in the primary for Montana District 17 Court Judge. Despite winning Valley County by a hefty 664 votes, Helland lost in Phillips County by 311 and Blaine County by 418 votes and ultimately lost the overall primary election by a mere 65 vote difference.

Despite being a non-partisan race with only two candidates on the ballot, a primary was held but was reasonably unnecessary as both Laird and Helland will be on the ballot for November’s general election, according to Valley County Clerk and Recorder Lynn Nyquist. The vote totals were Laird with 2,570 and Helland with 2,505 votes. In Valley County, Helland received 1,573 to Laird’s 909. In Phillips County, Laird won out with 849 votes to Helland’s 538. In Blaine County, Laird took 812 to Helland’s 394, earning her the inconsequential primary vote.

The last time District 17 saw an actual race for the judge position was in 1994, when Francis J. McCarvel lost to John C. McKeon. In that case, McKeon won both the primary and the general election. That race was the only example of the race being contested based on election result archives on the Secretary of State website. Before McKeon, the position was held by Leonard H. Langen, who also ran uncontested most of his time on the bench, according to records.

In other election results, incumbent Jon Tester (D), Matt Rosendale (R) and Steve Kelly (Green Party) will compete in the general election for Montana U.S. Senator. Incumbent Greg Gianforte (R) will go against Kathleen Williams (D) and Doug Cambell (Green Party) for the at-large Montana U.S. House seat. For Public Service Commissioner District 1 Doug Kaercher (D) will take on Randy Pinocci (R). For Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court Rex Rank (D) will take on Bowen Greenwood (R).

In local House of Representative Races District 31 will likely be represented by Bridget Smith (D), District 33 by Casey Knudsen (R) and District 34 by Rhonda Knudsen (R). All three ran uncontested in the primary and are running uncontested for their respective house seats in November’s general election.


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