HAMILTON, Mont. - A Democratic ballot with no locally contested races freed many Democrats to cross into GOP territory in the Ravalli County primary. Much of their focus zeroed in on commissioner races.
"Some Democrats voted Republican and wanted our commissioners out," said Democratic Central Committee secretary Becky Peters. "Some Democrats voted Republican and said we would like to keep the people in power now, so that we can hold them accountable."
Jeff Burrows kept his seat on the Republican board, but Suzy Foss and Ron Stoltz lost to challengers.
The three hired Valerie Stamey as interim treasurer. Stamey is on paid administrative leave from the Treasurer's office, after a stormy tenure there.
She ran for the seat in the primary and lost.
Voters were vocal about the three incumbents decision to hire Stamey.
Stoltz hadn't returned a phone call by news time. Foss had no comment. Burrows apologized for the hire, calling it a "mistake," and said he wants to "make it right."
Dissatisfied voters, many of them women, expressed dissatisfaction with the three commissioners' rejection of funding for reproductive health services.
Democrat Mary Lyn asked, "Who's going to stand up for Title 10?"
Lyn voted for Republican commission candidates she believed would support Title 10.
She also supported Republican Senate candidate Patrick Connell for his stance on expanding Medicaid.
"To me, Medicaid expansion is just as important as Title 10," said Lyn.
The Pat Connell-Scott Boulanger race is still too close to call, with only a 39-vote spread. There are still 40 provisional ballots to be counted, so that Senate race is still up in the air.
The chairman of the Republican Central Committee said he hopes Democrats stick around in November.
"Eighty-three percent of the entire votes were voted on the Republican ticket," said Terry Nelson. In this election, he said there was about 10 percent more crossover than in past elections.
But it's likely many of those Democrats will vote their own party in the fall, and vote against candidates they supported in the primary.