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HELENA — Former legislator Bill Thomas was declared the winner of the Democratic primary for Montana House District 26 after his name was pulled from a hat Thursday to settle a tie.

A Cascade County commissioners' recount last week showed Thomas and his opponent, Rod Lukasik, both received 636 votes in the June 6 primary.

To settle the tie, each candidate's name was written on three pieces of paper, placed in plastic tubes, and went into a hat for the drawing, which was performed by Secretary of State Brad Johnson at the Capitol Rotunda.

"It's been a civics lesson," Thomas said after the drawing. "It shows that every vote counts."

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Elaine Graveley, elections deputy in the secretary of state's office, told the Great Falls Tribune that the secretary of state hasn't had to draw a winner for a primary race in at least 40 years.

Thomas, who is also a retired educator and current chairman of the Cascade County Democratic Party, will face Republican Jack Allen, a Great Falls police lieutenant, in November.

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