When Gale Decker and Caroline McDonald say theirs is not a typical county commissioners’ race, the dollar signs back them up.
Together, the two candidates’ campaigns have brought in more than $20,000. The 2012 contest between Decker and Libertarian John Swenson saw just $2,600 in total contributions.
But from March through early October, Commissioner Decker has received $5,430 in contributions, and loaned his campaign $1,000, according to filings with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. As of Oct. 4, the date of his most recent filing, the Republican’s campaign had about $1,445 in the bank.
But his Democratic challenger, Polson School District board member Caroline McDonald, has the fundraising edge, taking in $14,982 from late February through Oct. 1. McDonald also loaned her campaign about $700 worth of supplies. She had $3,985 left in the bank at the beginning of the month.
Several Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal employees have donated to her campaign, including Tribal Council Chair Ronald Trahan, and Tribal Council members Leonard Gray and Carole Lankford. She’s also received money from Montana State Rep. John Fleming, D-St. Ignatius, Eldena Bear Don’t Walk, a Democratic candidate for his seat, and Polson City Council Member Graydon Moll. Their total contributions made over the course of the campaign ranged from $100 to $360.
Decker, meanwhile, has the backing of his fellow commissioner, Bill Barron, who is not up for re-election this year. Barron gave Decker’s campaign $180.
The campaign between Decker and McDonald has been a heated one, with Decker stressing the need for Lake County to better address its financial and environmental challenges, and questioning McDonald’s ties to the tribes. McDonald, meanwhile, has focused on improving the county’s relationships with the tribes and other local governments.