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Democrat Linda McCulloch, a former school librarian first elected to statewide office eight years ago, and Republican incumbent Brad Johnson were in a close race for Montana secretary of state early Wednesday, with McCulloch holding 49 percent of the vote to Johnson's 48 percent.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, McCulloch led with 217,291 votes to Johnson's 213,117. The Constitution Party's Sieglinde Sharbono received 2 percent with 10,682 votes.

In the contest for state school superintendent, Democrat Denise Juneau had 51 percent of the vote and Republican Elaine Sollie Herman 44 percent, based on 98 percent of precincts reporting. Libertarian Donald Eisenmenger received 5 percent.

The totals showed Juneau with 217,990, Herman with 187,788 and Eisenmenger tallying 23,175.

Democrat Monica Lindeen led the state auditor race with 53 percent of the vote, to Republican Duane Grimes' 47 percent, also with 98 percent of precincts reporting. Lindeen had 229,334 votes to Grimes' 199,889.

In pursuing a second term as secretary of state, Johnson touted his experience in that office, which he has held for almost four years. The secretary is Montana's top elections official and the keeper of records required of businesses. McCulloch, who was a librarian in Missoula and Bonner schools and is finishing eight years as the state school superintendent, had attacked former Gallatin County business owner Johnson as ineffective and criticized his absences from some meetings of the state Land Board.

That board, charged with managing state lands to make money for public schools, consists of the governor, the secretary of state, the auditor, the superintendent and the attorney general.

Juneau already works in the state Office of Public Instruction in Helena, the office overseen by the state superintendent. She is the Indian education administrator. Herman is a Helena retiree whose background includes work as a teacher and investment adviser. She ran for superintendent in 2000, losing to McCulloch.

In the 2008 race, Juneau said schools need more money and must address teacher pay imbalances that have educators receiving considerably more in some parts of Montana than in others. Herman called for stronger basic education and greater care in fund allocations.

In the race for auditor, the state regulator of the insurance and securities industries, both Lindeen and Grimes brought credentials as former legislators.

Grimes, of Clancy, ran for auditor unsuccessfully in 2004 and Lindeen, of Huntley, failed in her 2006 bid for the U.S. House. In vying for auditor, both emphasized consumer advocacy, but they differed in their approaches.

Democrat John Morrison has served as auditor for two terms and was ineligible to run again.


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HELENA - Democrat Linda McCulloch and Republican incumbent Brad Johnson are in a close race for Montana secretary of state.

McCulloch holds 49 percent of the vote and Johnson 48 percent, with 96 percent of precincts reporting. The Constitution Party's Sieglinde Sharbono got 2 percent.

In the contest for state school superintendent, Democrat Denise Juneau is in front with 51 percent of the vote and Republican Elaine Sollie Herman 44 percent, based on 98 percent of precincts reporting. Libertarian Donald Eisenmenger received 5 percent.

Democrat Monica Lindeen leads the state auditor race with 53 percent of the vote, to Republican Duane Grimes' 47 percent, also with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

CLICK HERE for complete election results.

Copyright © 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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