Democrats convened in Montana’s capital city yesterday and made a surprising decision. The state party’s 160 voting members met to select a special congressional election nominee for purposes of replacing former Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) who is now US Interior Secretary. The delegates chose bluegrass and country rock musician Rob Quist on the fourth ballot. He upset state Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Butte), the Democrats’ 2014 US Senate nominee, on a 90-69 vote.
Mr. Quist, 69 years of age and a Montana native, has been a singer/musician/ songwriter since the early 70s when he and four others formed the Montana Mission Wood Band. Quist has been performing as part of a band or solo for better than 45 years. He says the short campaign cycle will help him because he has traveled throughout the state for decades and met so many of the state’s residents.
The new congressional nominee supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) in the presidential election. His only political experience is previously serving for eleven years on the Montana Arts Council. Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), who supported Mr. Quist at the convention, appointed him to the MAC.
The Republicans: The Montana GOP delegates convene today to choose their own nominee. At least seven individuals have paid the party’s filing fee to run for the congressional post. Greg Gianforte, the businessman who held Gov. Steve Bullock (D) to a close 50-46% re-election victory, is favored to win the nomination. He claims the support of 117 of 212 GOP state convention delegates, more than enough to ensure a first ballot victory.
As we again saw at the Democratic meeting, political conventions often produce unexpected conclusions, so this afternoon’s Republican meeting will be well worth watching.
The at-large Montana special election is scheduled for May 25th.
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