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Democrat Wins Mont. GOP Nomination

June 7, 2000

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Brian Schweitzer, a farmer and political newcomer who made the high cost of prescription medicine the theme of his campaign, easily won the Democratic nomination Tuesday to challenge GOP Sen. Conrad Burns.

Schweitzer held off John Driscoll, a well-known political figure who challenged Democratic Sen. Max Baucus in 1990. Driscoll conducted his low-key pitch mostly through his Web site, and did little fund raising.

With 12 percent of precincts reporting, Schweitzer had 13,069 votes, 67 percent, and Driscoll had 6,513 votes, 33 percent.

Schweitzer, who promised to embarrass Congress into doing something about the cost of medicine, orchestrated four bus trips of senior citizens to Canada and Mexico to get their prescriptions filled at up to half of what they would pay in the United States.

He also went on the attack against Burns, rapping his farm policies and saying he cannot be trusted because he reneged on a vow to spend only two terms in the Senate.

Burns, who was unopposed Tuesday, withheld rebuttals and watched donations flow in. At last count he had $3.5 million, almost five times the $710,000 raised by Schweitzer.

Montana voters also narrowed the field of candidates vying to succeed Gov. Marc Racicot, a popular Republican who is barred from seeking a third term.

In the Democratic race, state Auditor Mark O’Keefe led two other top state officials, Secretary of State Mike Cooney and Attorney General Joe Mazurek.

On the Republican side, the choice was between Lt. Gov. Judy Martz and Rob Natelson, a University of Montana law professor known for conservative activism.

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