Early returns favor Repke in PSC race, Flathead County still unreported

Democrat John Repke was ahead early in the state utility commission race to represent Lewis and Clark County and the greater Flathead Area.

Repke, a retired finance executive for Waste Management, had 52% of the vote with a modest 29,198 ballots counted. Bukacek, a political fire brand and physician more known from her years of antiabortion campaigning, had 48% of the vote.

Flathead County results remained unreported at 11:25 p.m. Repke lives in Whitefish, Bukacek in Kalispell. 

The PSC regulates utility and public service monopolies, which includes the state’s largest utilities NorthWestern Energy and MDU. In that capacity, the PSC affects the household budgets of more than 400,000 Montana utility customers. Those customers are legally recognized as “captive,” meaning they lack the free-market choice of shopping around for a better deal.

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Both candidates campaigned on restoring professionalism to the Montana Public Service Commission, which has been repeatedly tripped up by scandal over the years.

However, there are big differences between the candidates, with Repke focused on delivering the most affordable rates for consumers, particularly as commissioners review a request by NorthWestern Energy to increase base electric rates 26%. 

Bukacek has messaged consistently

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