12 January 2018 — 1605 mst
Rep. Frank Garner gets primary challenge
Robert Welzel, a former Marine aviator who now flies civilian cargo jets, today filed for the Republican nomination for MT House District 7 (old downtown Kalispell; map). Incumbent Republican Frank Garner, the popular former Kalispell police chief, filed for re-election yesterday.
Garner, derisively nicknamed “Gas Tax Garner” by right wing Republicans, has been savaged in letters to the editor for his political pragmatism and occasional willingness to subordinate ideological purity to common sense solutions to problems. In the 2014 GOP primary for HD-7, he defeated Ronalee Skees 809–288. He was not challenged in the 2016 GOP primary.
Gov. Steve Bullock carried HD-7 by a plurality in 2016. Thus far, no Democrat has filed for HD-7.
All eligible Flathead legislative incumbents filed for re-election yesterday. Challengers filed in several districts. With the possible exception of HD-7, where some Democrats want to protect Garner, all Flathead legislative districts should have candidates from both major parties when filing closes in March.
Here’s the Flathead legislative lineup as of 1500 MST Friday, 12 January: