Majority of Montana voters cast Republican ballots; not so much for Green Party

Missoula County election workers counted ballots deep into the night. Voter turnout in Missoula County and across much of Montana was high in Tuesday’s primary election. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Voter turnout was high in Tuesday’s midterm elections, with nearly 42 percent of all registered voters in Montana casting a ballot in the decisive contest – and the majority of them for the Republican Party.

Of the state’s 679,231 voters, 281,412 turned out to vote.

The 2018 primary marked the first time in 18 years that Montanans had a choice of voting one of three individual ballots, one for both the Democrats and Republicans and a third for the upstart Green Party.

With the totals counted, this year’s race for the U.S. Senate will include incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, who secured 113,815 votes from those voting the Democratic ticket. He’ll face Republican challenger Matt Rosendale, who emerged from a field of four candidates on Tuesday with 51,546 votes and Green Party candidate Steve Kelly, who secured 995 votes.

The state’s race for the U.S. House will also include three candidates, including incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte, who secured 135,515 votes on Tuesday night. He’ll face Democrat Kathleen Williams, who defeated five other candidates with 37,144 votes in a closely contested race.

They’ll be joined by Green Party candidate Doug Campbell, who garnered 1,515 votes.

With the tables set, both party’s and the candidates began campaigning for the November election.

“Democrats win when we show up, and the unprecedented energy we’ve seen in Big Sky Country over the last 18 months has resulted in a strong field of candidates at the federal, legislative, and local levels who are dedicated to improving the lives of Montanans,” the Montana Democratic Party said in a statement issued Wednesday morning.

On Twitter on Wednesday, Rosendale said, “This win is the first lap. We’ve got a lot of race in front of us but we are one step closer to defeating Jon Tester.”

While more Montanans statewide chose to vote the Republican ticket, the scenario was reversed in Missoula County – the state’s second most populous county, which saw 36 percent of registered voters cast a ballot on Tuesday.

In the race for U.S. Senate, the four Republicans secured a combined vote of 8,752 to Tester’s 19,143. The two Green Party candidates earned just 154 combined votes.

In the race of the U.S. House, the six Democrats collected a combined 19,101 votes to Gianforte’s 7,940. The lone Green Party candidate in the race secured 145 votes.