Mary Caferro defeated Dave Gallik in a high-profile Democratic Senate primary in Senate District 40, which includes much of the eastern and central portions of the city of Helena and the southern end of the Helena Valley.
As of shortly after 10:30 p.m., Caferro had collected 1,627 votes, or nearly 61 percent of the votes counted, to Gallik’s 1,048.
“I feel really grateful for all the people who worked on this campaign and all the voters who opened their doors and their hearts to me,” Caferro said while celebrating at her South Central home with around 50 family members and supporters. “It’s a vindication that people really do care about other people, because that’s what my platform was all about.”
Caferro said that even as she campaigned door-to-door outside of her own House district, she found the issues confronting Helenans were very much the same, regardless of income level.
“It’s an affirmation that people really care about each other, and they want someone who’s going to represent all people,” she said.
The race was the most expensive in Montana this primary season, with both candidates spending more than $20,000. Gallik’s own wallet accounted for around 80 percent of his spending, while Caferro spent very little of her own money and raised funds from a cadre of small contributors.
Gallik was accepting of the loss and said he left a voice mail for Caferro wishing her well. And he kept his sense of humor.
“I put in as much time as I could and as much money as I could. I thought I might have something to give to the community, but the community decided Mary’s is the proper voice, and I’m OK with that,” he said. “I wish her well. I left her a message and said I’ll help in any way, just don’t ask me for money — I’m a little short now.”
Gallik is a self-employed attorney. Caferro is executive director of a Helena nonprofit, Working for Equality and Economic Liberation, or WEEL.
The contest for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Cooney due to term limits was the highest profile primary in the Helena area, contested by two House veterans. Gallik, 56, spent four terms in the House of Representatives, the last in 2007, before being term-limited. Caferro spent three terms in the House, but decided to run for the vacant Senate seat rather than a fourth House term this year.
Caferro touted her ability to listen to others and work behind the scenes to be an effective legislator. Gallik took a more aggressive approach and said he was more willing to take risks and mix it up publicly with the other side.
Caferro will face Republican Patrick Faber, a hydrogeologist, in November’s general election. She will enter the race as a strong favorite to win the seat in one of the state’s most Democraticleaning districts.
Reporter John Harrington: 447-4080 or john.harrington@ helenair.com