In Montana’s Public Service Commission races, Joe Dooling and John Repke were leading primary races at midnight to represent Lewis and Clark County and the Flathead region, while Randy Pinocci had the lead to represent Eastern Montana.
Returns in District 5 broke down like this for Republicans: Dooling 6,545, Anne Bukacek 6,031, Derek Skees 6,069, Dean Crabb 1,896.
In the Democratic primary, Whitefish resident Repke had 5,753 votes, and Kevin Hamm of Helena had 4,963 votes.
District 5 includes Flathead, Lake, Lewis and Clark, and Teton counties, with Flathead typically delivering half of the votes in past Republican primaries. Three of the Republican candidates hail from Kalispell, a mix that’s sure to dilute the home-county advantage for all three. The only Republican not from Kalispell is Dooling, of Helena.
Incumbent Brad Johnson, of Helena was prevented from running by term limits.
Montana is one of the few states in the nation that elects its utility commissioners, the people who balance customer rates and reliable service with a monopoly’s fixed rate of return. The only job requirement is that candidates be of voting age and live in their