A legislator who started a Republican inroad in traditionally union-heavy Democratic Blaine and Hill counties continued her dominance in Tuesday’s general election, with a strong showing in her home Blaine County more than overcoming a closer Hill County race generated by her Democratic opponent.
Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Chinook, defeated licensed practicing nurse practitioner and retired Family Planning Director Karen Sloan of Havre 1,873 to 1,618.
The race wasn’t called until nearly 1 a. m., by which time everyone was probably ready to call it a night, but Warburton reaffirmed her dedication to the values she’s fought for since 2008.
“(I’ll work for) the same priorities, as far as family values and pro-life values, that are very dear to my heart. Also to really work on developing our energy resources, ” Warburton said. “Really just the same issues that I’ve stood for from the beginning. No big changes here.
“One thing I would like to work on is lowering insurance rates.... We would like to put money back in people’s pocket, and that’s one way to do it, to improve the economy all over. ”
Warburton will return to Helena to represent a region that had sent state Democratic legends like Rep. Francis Bardanouve, D-Harlem, and Reps. Ray Peck and Bob Bachini, both Havre Democrats, in previous decades.
Warburton’s 2008 win started Republican inroads that culminated in a sweep of contested elections in 2010, with Republicans winning three legislative seats, a Blaine County commission seat and a Republican-endorsed independent winning the Hill County Commission seat that year.
This year, Sloan made a strong showing against Warburton, although she never was able to overcome Warburton’s strong early lead. The Republican led the race through the entire night.
Warburton won the total in each of the four Blaine County precincts in the district, although in Precinct 8, in Harlem and north of the town, by one vote, 232-231.
The total in Blaine County went to Warburton 841-537.
Sloan took two of the five precincts in Hill County, including by a 348-177 total in Precinct 10, in northeastern Havre, but lost the county total in a close tally, 1,039 to 1,072.
Warburton took the total votes in the district with 54.83 percent to Sloan’s 45.17 percent.