Unofficial final results in the Tuesday primary put Colette Davies and Thomas Pardy in the top two slots in the local judge race.
Alexander Roth, Teague Westrope and Yvette Lafrentz were slated in third through fifth places, in that order, according to the early voting data. Only the top two move on to the general election in November. The winner in that election will take office in January.
Roth had 5,197 votes, Westrope had 4,830 and Lafrentz had 2,587 as of 11 p.m.
The five candidates are vying to win election in the 13th Judicial District’s newly created Department 7.
Two other candidates, Ashley Harada and Juli Pierce, are facing off in the only other contested judge race in Yellowstone County. They are also running in a newly created department, Department 8. Harada and Pierce will automatically move on to the general election in November.
As of 11 p.m., Pierce had 19,766 and Harada had 13,053.
The final tally of votes counted was 40,539 in Yellowstone County — about 43 percent of the county's 94,765 registered voters.
The judge positions in departments 7 and 8 were added to the existing six judge positions in Yellowstone County last year.
Yellowstone County is the busiest judicial district in the state and needs an additional seven judges — or 6.7 full-time equivalents — according to the most recent workload review by the office of the Montana Supreme Court administrator, but lawmakers in 2017 approved funding for only the two new judges.
Sitting judges Michael Moses, Don Harris and Jessica Fehr are all on the ballot unopposed.
Just south and west of the 13th Judicial District is the 22nd Judicial District, where another contested judge race is playing out. The district, which covers Stillwater, Carbon and Big Horn counties, has an opening because its sole judge, Blair Jones, plans to retire at the end of 2018.
Seeking to replace Jones are Raymond Kuntz of Red Lodge and Matthew Wald of Lodge Grass.