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Montana Local Newspaper / Obama favoured

All eyes are on Montana

By Mike Dennison of Montana Lee Newspapers – 06/03/2008

Adrian Denes, a campaign volunteer for presidential hopeful Barack Obama from Lakewood, Colo., greets Michelle Obama after her speech Monday, in the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. AP Photo/James Woodcock, The Gazette

HELENA — As Montanans go to the polls in today’s primary election, the eyes of the nation and the world will be upon them, for their votes will help decide the Democratic primary presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

With Obama just 40-some delegates away from sealing the nomination, Montana’s usually irrelevant 25 Democratic nominating delegates have become critical — and today’s election results will help determine how many go to Obama.

Yet while the Democratic presidential contest is drawing all the attention, voters have plenty of other contested state races on the ballot today.

Republicans will choose their nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who’s up for a sixth consecutive term, and Democrats will choose their opponent for four-term U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.

Both parties have spirited nominating contests for state attorney general and Democrats will choose among four candidates running for state superintendent of schools.

Voters also will decide contested Democratic and Republican primaries in dozens of legislative districts across the state, as well as the Democratic primary for the southeastern Montana seat on the Public Service Commission.

Still, the Democratic presidential primary is the one attracting the spotlight DASH and, probably, the bulk of the voters.

Kevin O’Brien, spokesman for the Montana Democratic Party, said Monday that the Obama-Clinton clash has super-charged interest in the party and the race, likely leading to a record turnout among Democratic voters.

“The two presidential campaigns have gotten folks energized and excited, and they’ve also gotten people involved,” he said. “I’ve seen more folks canvassing in a primary than ever before. We hope to tap into that volunteer base.” Montana’s presidential primary is getting media attention from around the nation and the world. Reporters from the nation’s top newspapers and TV networks have been in the state, and O’Brien said he’s been called by broadcast crews from German television and Al Jazeera, an Arabic news network.

Montana has an open primary, where voters choose on election day in which party primary they’ll vote. In 2004, the last presidential primary year, 54 percent of voters chose the Republican presidential primary.

This year, Democrats expect a “clear majority” will choose the Democratic presidential primary, O’Brien said.

Election officials also are predicting a turnout of nearly 50 percent of all registered voters, much higher than the usual primary turnout of around 35 percent.

The only independent poll in recent weeks, one done by Lee Newspapers, has shown Obama, a senator from Illinois, leading Clinton among likely Democratic primary voters, 52 percent to 35 percent.. If Obama wins today’s Montana Democratic primary, he’ll probably pick up nine or 10 of the state’s 17 pledged delegates.

Another five Montana Democratic superdelegates, who are state elected and party officials, also could go to Obama if he wins today’s primary election.

Link to Montana Standard complete story>>

Discussion

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  1. I am so pleased and proud that my state has come through for Obama.

    There has been amazing support here throughout, and Obama, Michelle and the Obama campaign, have made major efforts here.

    The ground team, staffers, volunteers and callers have been stupendous! What a way to end a great day, with the Democratic nomination.

    As someone said: “He won the first state of the campaign and the last.”

    History is made. I love Montana! OBAMA ’08 & ’12

    Posted by Cami | June 5, 2008, 11:45 am