HELENA- A longtime state lawmaker has defeated a newcomer to state politics in a hotly contested Democratic primary election in Montana House District 81.
Helena city commissioner Rob Farris-Olsen said Tuesday night he had called state Sen. Mary Caferro to congratulate her on her victory.
As of 10:43 p.m. Tuesday, Lewis and Clark County election data showed Caferro leading Farris-Olsen 949-837 for the district’s open House seat.
Caferro is very likely to be the new representative, as no Republican candidate filed for the seat.
Caferro said Tuesday night she was grateful for her supporters.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the voters of House District 81, who were so kind and opened their doors and their hearts to me,” she said. “I’m really proud of the positive campaign we ran.”
Caferro was first elected to the state Legislature in 2004. She served three terms in the House, then was elected to the Senate in 2010 and 2014. This year, she was termed-out from her Senate seat and chose to attempt a return to the House.
Caferro, who works as an advocate for people with disabilities, said she wants to focus on maintaining and improving public services if she wins another term in the Legislature.
Farris-Olsen, an attorney in private practice, was elected to the Helena City Commission in 2015. He emphasized his record on environmental issues and his support from conservation groups and public employee unions.
Farris-Olsen said he will continue to work to improve opportunity for those in need. He said he hopes he and Caferro can cooperate in those efforts.
“She ran a great campaign, and I’m excited about the opportunity to work with her as a city commissioner,” he said.
House District 81 includes most of downtown Helena, along with neighborhoods on the city’s north side and in the Helena Valley.