Voters may have determined the ranking of mayoral candidates in Missoula’s primary election Sept. 13—though an anticipated recount will settle the razor-thin difference between the runners up before it’s all over—but it’s interesting to note, for whatever it’s worth, that the outcome duplicated the ranking of the candidates’ campaign finance reports.
John Engen leaped ahead in the mayoral race with a 1,000-vote margin between him and runners up Lou Ann Crowley and Geoff Badenoch, who were separated by only three votes.
Final unofficial results pegged Engen with 2,591 votes (32 percent) compared to Crowley’s 1,583 votes (19.7 percent) and Badenoch’s 1,580 votes (19.7 percent). The top two vote getters in the primary move on to the Nov. 8 general election. The other three candidates lagged considerably: Clayton Floyd came in fourth with 1,000 votes. Jerry Ballas received 636 votes and John D’Orazi received 624 votes.
In terms of campaign funding, Engen was leader of the pack with $16,563 reported. Crowley had $13,824; Badenoch, $7,839; Floyd, $4,480; Ballas, $3,665; and D’Orazi, $3,200.
In the only other contested race, Ward 2 City Council candidates John Couch and John Hendrickson will advance to the general election. Myrt Charney came in third.
Badenoch said Tuesday night he intends to request a recount. “The people who voted have a right to know,” he said. “ I don’t want there to be any question.”
Debbe Merseal, Missoula County’s chief deputy clerk and recorder, says Badenoch has five days to request the hand recount after the results are made official, which was scheduled to happen Friday, Sept. 16. Wednesday morning, election staff were double-checking to make sure no ballots had been left behind with the voting supplies, though Merseal said she didn’t anticipate finding any. Because of the closeness of the results, the city will pay for any recount.
Merseal says she was pleased by the 23-percent voter turnout, markedly higher than in past elections. Badenoch, though, couldn’t help but be disappointed that so few people participated in the election to choose Missoula’s new executive. “Everybody’s burden now is getting people engaged—it’s not winning or losing,” he said.