Bukacek ekes out as presumptive winner of Republican PSC primary race

The Flathead physician narrowly defeated Rep. Derek Skees, but there is potential for a recount.

By: - June 14, 2022 5:00 pm

Montana Public Service Commission (via PSC Twitter account).

Dr. Ann Bukacek squeaked ahead of Rep. Derek Skees by just 87 votes in the Republican primary race for the Montana Public Service Commission in District Five. 

The Secretary of State’s Office has both Bukacek and Skees with 31% of the vote in the race flagged as a possible recount with Bukacek winning 11,233 to Skees’ 11,146. 

Joe Dooling came in third with 10,442 votes and Dean Crabb in fourth with 3,143 votes. 

Recounts are not automatic and must be requested by the defeated candidate within five days of the official state canvass, scheduled to start in two weeks. Skees did not respond to a voicemail requesting comment on the results of the race on Tuesday. 

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic primary winner John Repke in the fall. Repke won the primary against Kevin Hamm with 54% of the vote.   

The five elected members to the Public Service Commission regulate monopoly utilities in Montana, with Districts One and Five on the ballot this year. 

Bukacek formerly served on the Flathead City-County Board of Health, with the Daily Interlake reporting she announced her departure after filing to run for the PSC primary. 

Buzzfeed News reported in 2020 on a viral video of Bukacek speculating about the COVID-19 death rate, claiming it was based on “inaccurate, incomplete data,” with over a million views on social media. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that COVID-19 mortalities are likely undercounted with sometimes long delays in reporting due to the time required to verify cause of death. 

On her campaign website, Bukacek touted her experience working as a physician in the Flathead more than 30 years as part of what made her qualified for the position.   

Applying my character and value system to the job as PSC,  I will do my research, apply my proven problem- solving abilities, and not be beholden to environmental or monopolistic special interests in the push for energy independence for Montana,” Bukacek said in her “About” section on her campaign website. 

Increasing communications with the public and PSC involvement in the Legislature were on her list of things she would like to accomplish if elected.

Skees, a legislator from Kalispell, took office in the Legislature in 2017. 

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Nicole Girten
Nicole Girten

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune as a government watchdog reporter. She holds a degree from Florida State University and a Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.