Brad Johnson is set to write another chapter in his political biography.
The former Secretary of State cruised to victory in the District 5 race for the Public Services Commission. He will replace retiring Republican colleague Bill Gallagher.
Johnson’s opponent, Democrat Galen Hollenbaugh, ran on a campaign that stressed the PSC should be more than a rubber stamp for corporations in the public resources sector. Hollenbaugh disagreed with a plan for Northwestern Energy to buy a series of hydroelectric dams in the state, saying Montanans were shouldering an undue burden of the risk.
Johnson supported the deal, and voters supported Johnson.
Johnson’s win also means the commission will remain completely controlled by Republicans.
Johnson, 62, ran for this seat four years ago and narrowly lost to Gallagher in the primary.
The defeat came shortly after he was pulled over for a DUI on the way back to Helena after visiting friends in Bozeman. He says the experience was a life-changing one that he has learned from.
Before that, he served four years at Montana’s Secretary of State. He lost his bid for re-election to Democrat Linda McCulloch in 2008, and he lost a rematch four years later. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2000 and for the U.S. Senate in 2002.
Incumbent Travis Kavulla was also re-elected in an unopposed race for District 1.
--By PEREGRINE FRISSELL
UM School of Journalism