At the weekly Aging Writers Kaffee Klatsch, the talk was about how Bob Kelleher managed to win the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Harold Hanser, a former county attorney here who has known Kelleher for many years, offered this theory: Kelleher did well in the same places that Ron Paul did well. Ron Paul did well, he speculated, in sparsely populated Eastern Montana and in the libertarian enclaves around Flathead Lake. Check the numbers, he predicted, and you would find that Kelleher did the same thing.
True? Well, sort of. Hanser's prediction about counties where Paul did well was right on the money. For the state as a whole, John McCain won 78 percent of the votes that were cast either for him or for Paul. In Flathead and Lake counties, Paul won nearly a third of the vote.
Kelleher also did well in those counties. He won 36 percent of all the votes cast in the Republican primary, but he won 44 percent of those cast in Flathead and Lake counties. Paul and Kelleher also both ran well in Park County
Get away from the lake, though, and the comparison starts to break down. As Hanser anticipated, Paul did run well in some rural counties at each end of the state. Kelleher, not so much. Paul got an impressive 38 percent of the votes in Wibaux County, for instance, but Kelleher got only 23 percent. Same in Sanders County: Paul got 31 percent, Kelleher only 29 percent.
I didn't get much sleep last night, so anyone is welcome to check my numbers. But it does appear that the same people around Flathead Lake who liked Paul also voted for Kelleher. Why? Not sure. Maybe they just don't like the Republican Party. Maybe the only candidate they cared about was Ron Paul, and Kelleher got votes on name recognition.
Whatever the explanation, it was a hell of a result. Just think: By the time McCain finishes his third term as president, he will be almost as old as Kelleher is now. When Kelleher runs for re-election (assuming, of course, that he gives Max Baucus the heave-ho) he will be 91.