Two judicial candidates — Rod Souza and William J. Speare — led the field in unofficial final county results in the race to replace state District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings.
Souza, a Yellowstone County chief deputy attorney, led with 10,113 votes or 32.77 percent, while Speare, a Billings attorney, came in second with 6,776 votes or 21.95 percent of the votes.
Souza and Speare will advance to the general election.
The other candidates include Bill O’Connor, a Billings attorney, with 6,005 votes or 19.46 percent, and Corbit Harrington, a Yellowstone County deputy attorney, with 2,372 votes or 7.69 percent.
The six-year term pays a salary of $117,600. The job is nonpartisan.
Baugh, 72, whose controversial remarks about a juvenile rape victim being older than her chronological age triggered national criticism, decided to retire at the end of the year after 30 years on the bench.
Although state District Judge Mike Moses’ name appeared on the ballot for Baugh’s seat, Gov. Steve Bullock appointed him earlier this year to the judgeship created when Susan Watters became a U.S. District judge. Moses still received 5,534 votes, or 17.93 percent, of
Speare, O’Connor and Souza all applied to be considered for the appointment to Watters’ seat.
In another Yellowstone County district judge race, incumbent Judge Gregory Todd faced no opposition in his bid for re-election. Todd received 27,764 votes or 99 percent in early returns.
Both judgeships are in the state’s 13th Judicial District. The general election is Nov. 4.