A woman named Diane Smith, from Whitefish, has announced a run for Congress.
Smith has an interesting profile as a candidate with some strengths and weaknesses. She has never run for office (likely a strength) and she has an impressive professional resume. She built a $190 million business in Kalispell that employs 100 people, and before moving to Montana from the DC area in 2002 she served Vice President of the Alltel cellular company. She is an author as well, having written a book on rural entrepreneurship.
At the same time, Smith is known in Whitefish to have close alliances with some local Republicans and Realtors, on key local issues like development and sprawl. And based on the feedback that has been sent to this blog in the last 24 hours, there is clearly a sector of democratic voters in Whitefish that will not be voting for her in the primary. Smith also donated in on two occasions to Rehberg and Burns, some time ago (and has also donated to Tester and other Democrats).
The wild card, of course, is that she helped found a business that is worth $190 million. Meaning she probably has some good personal wealth, which is something that the other primary candidates–Kim Gillan and Franke Wilmer–do not. Right now Kim Gillan leads the pack in terms of funds raised, and Smith is starting at zero assuming she spends no money of her own.
So it looks like we will have an interesting primary. And a feminist one, too.
UPDATE: The Flathead Memo also has a piece up on the Congressional Primary that you’ll want to read.