Garner tops Welzel in HD7 primary

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Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell looks to have secured the support of Republican voters in his bid for another term in the Montana Legislature.

Preliminary results Tuesday night showed Garner earning 71 percent of the vote in House District 7, easily defeating Republican challenger Robert Welzel. Garner is seeking re-election after two consecutive terms representing the Kalispell district.

Garner moves on to face Democrat James Cossitt, who ran unopposed in Tuesday’s primary.

Garner has made some high-profile moves since being elected to the state Legislature. He sponsored 2015’s “dark money” bill in the House, which toughened campaign-finance disclosure requirements. In 2017, he introduced a phased-in gas tax increase of 6 cents per gallon to better fund the Montana Department of Transportation.

In addition to his legislative efforts, Garner works as a security consultant. He previously served as police chief with the Kalispell Police Department.

In the House District 9 Republican primary, David Dunn held the vote advantage over Warren Illi with most precincts reporting as of Tuesday night. Dunn had 54 percent of the vote, to Illi’s 46 percent.

The two candidates were seeking to replace Rep. Randy Brodehl, who has reached his maximum number of terms representing the district that covers northeast Kalispell and Evergreen.

Dunn, 30, owns DW Organics in Whitefish. He will now face Democrat Robert Petersen in the November election.

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