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Tuesday, 7 December 2004

The 2004 Election: another defeat for the Republicans

Constitution Party of Idaho - 2004 Election Results: "Victory in Montana:
Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore has been declared the winner for District 12 of the Montana House of Representatives with a two-vote margin in a three-way race. This is the first legislative win ever for the Constitution Party nationwide. He is also the first third party legislator in Montana since 1929. Jore is a 3-term Republican legislator (1995-2000) who quit the party and joined the Constitution Party during his last term because the Republican Party does not hold to the principles and ideals that Rick believes are the foundation of a responsible government. You can read Rick's political philosophy at "

From the Montana GOP Ebrief 12/2/2004

Democrat litigation upsets democratic process

Contributed by Bob Garner, Bozeman

The votes in House District 12 have been counted, and recounted, and the case of one precinct, recounted again and again. But through it all, Democrat candidate Jeanne Windham has never come out ahead. After the final count, it ended up a tie, so now she's filing a lawsuit to try to steal the election away. Windham is contesting five ballots that were awarded to Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore. On all five ballots, the ovals for both Jore and Republican candidate Jack Cross were marked, but then each of the voters marked the ballots in such a way as to indicate that their preference was for Jore.

These ballots have been independently reviewed by two bi-partisan counting boards - first on election night by a Resolutions Board made up of a Republican and an Independent, and then by a Recount Board made up of two Republicans and a Democrat. Both boards unanimously verified that the voter intent could be determined and awarded the votes to the rightful candidate.

Those five ballots will likely be reviewed by a judge, and possibly by the Montana Supreme Court. Mrs. Windham deserves her day in court to review those ballots, but her actions in the meantime have been despicable.

Only minutes after the election was declared a tie, both Governor Martz and Secretary of State Bob Brown were served with restraining orders preventing the normal tie breaking provisions from taking place. Under normal circumstances, when a tie occurs in a legislative race, the secretary of state convenes the state Canvassing Board (made up of the attorney general, state auditor, and state OPI superintendent, all three are Democrats) to certify the results, and then the governor is notified so she can break the tie.

With the restraining order in place, Governor Martz will not be allowed to break the tie. The Democrats are hoping that they can stall the outcome of the race until at least January 3 when Brian Schweitzer is sworn in as governor. Never before has Montana seen this type of manipulation of the electoral system.


Jore is not a newcomer to the Montana Legislature. He was elected to the Montana House as Republican in 1994, 1996, and 1998.

A leading conservative in the Montana House, Jore left the Republican Party in 2000 and joined the Constitution Party because he did not see the Republicans changing direction to restore Constitutional principles. "My concern is that the Republican Party simply takes conservatives for granted," he said. "The inclination is generally to compromise toward the Democrats. The conservatives are simply left out in the cold."

In the 2000 election, Jore sought to retain his seat as the Constitution Party nominee, but was defeated by 54 votes. In 2002, he ran again as the nominee of the Constitution Party, but was defeated by the Democrat who received 1,539 votes (49 percent) to Jore's 1,339 (43 percent). The Republican candidate cornered only 245 votes (8 percent) and was the spoiler keeping Jore out.

This year, Jore ran again in a highly competitive three way race. When the votes were counted on election night, Jore led by only one vote with 1,556 to the Democrat's 1,555, and the Republican's 1,107.

There were seven provisional ballots to be counted, and they were not opened until the afternoon of Monday, November 8. When the provisional ballots were counted, Jore received 3 votes, the Democrat 2, the Republican 1, and one was unmarked. Thus, Jore was elected by two votes: 1,559 for Jore, 1,557 for the Democrat, and 1,108 for the Republican.

Jore of the Constitution Party returns to the Montana House of Representatives in a powerful position to determine the partisan organization of the House which has 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 1 Constitution Party member, Rick Jore. The newly elected Governor of Montana is a Democrat.

An experienced legislator, Jore will use his leverage for the benefit of conservatives and taxpayers. Meanwhile, both establishment parties are courting him, for it is he who will decide their destinies when the Legislature organizes.

ETA: I should point out that this turned out to be yet another case in proof of the axiom that Democrats never lose a close election: they just keep counting the votes until they have enough to win. The Montana Supreme Court handed the victory to Windham, as reported in Wikipedia:

Initial returns showed Jore winning the election in Montana House District 12, in 2004, defeating his Democratic opponent by a margin of only 1 vote in a three-way race. In a legislature divided between 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and with a Democratic governor, Jore's alignment was expected to determine the partisan alignment of the state house.
However, given the closeness of the race, an automatic recount by the county election board was initiated, which resulted in the board unanimously calling a tie between Jore and Democrat Jeanne Windham. Windham then filed suit, arguing that seven ballots should not have been counted for Jore,[2]but the district court agreed with the county election board on the tie, invoking Montana election law, which states, "If a majority of the counting board members agree that under the rules the voter's intent can be clearly determined, the vote is valid and must be counted according to the voter's intent."[3]
Next, Jore's opponents appealed the case to the State Supreme Court, and with the legislative session soon to begin, on December 28, 2004, the Montana Supreme Court swiftly made a media release, declaring "one or more" Jore votes invalid, handing Windham the election and effectively giving control of the Montana House to the Democrats. At the time, the court failed to publish what is defined by Montana law[4] as a legally binding decision: To wit, its declaration was missing the required "grounds of the decision" by not only failing to list the particular ballots rejected but even failing to give the exact number.
Over two months later, though the legislative session was well under way with Windham casting votes on bills, opposition to the court's decision was mounting,[5] and on March 18, 2005, the court finally issued a decision including official "grounds".[6]
Later though he had already paid his own legal fees with help from (1) people in his own local community, (2) people from across the country, and (3) the Montana Republican Party, the Montana supreme court went further by ordering him to pay his opponents' legal fees.[7][8] To this day, Jore has publicly refused to abide by this last court order, though it has never been rescinded. In the autumn of 2005, his bank accounts were raided and drained of funds by government officials, though the sum obtained was small compared to the total amount sought.
Update: Rick Jore's persistence paid off, to the chagrin of the Democrats who are still waiting for him to pay their legal fees: in 2006 he defeated incumbant Windham with 56.2% of the vote. With Republicans controlling the Montana House by a slim margin of 50-49, Jore obtained an unexpected amount of political leverage and was appointed chairman of the House Education Committee. In the end, what brought him down in 2008 were the term limits under Montana law: his previous service with the Republican Party made him ineligible to serve another term. So, John Fleming re-took the 12th district for the Democrat Party, receiving 2,736 votes.

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