By KIMBALL BENNION and CARLY FLANDRO
Republican Bob Lake kept his head above water Tuesday night and won a close race for House District 88.
With 99 percent of the votes counted, Lake defeated opponent Patrick Boylan, a Democrat, 2,453 to 2,326, securing him a fourth term in the Montana Legislature.
Both candidates speculated that the Obama campaign Get Out the Vote lifted Boylan by sending more Democrats than usual to the polls.
Lake, 70, a retired businessman with two granddaughters in high school, supports lowering business taxes and increasing technology in rural Montana schools.
Boylan, 31, campaigned for a diversified, a green economy and improved access to health care.
But residents from the Woodside Cutoff to Sleeping Child Lake supported Lake and his pro-business, pro-education platform once again.
In office, Lake said he would like to be reappointed chairman of the taxation committee, where one of his main goals would be to reduce or eliminate business taxes.
He also said that he will try to make higher education more affordable, and prepare more of Montana’s youth for universities.
“I want to see children get through one level (of education) and be ready for the next,” Lake said. “My biggest efforts will go into that.”
Lake, who owned Lake Milling, Inc./Lakeland Feeds for 22 years, credits his victory in part to name recognition.
“The bottom line is that any of these races are run more like a popularity contest than an issue contest,” he said.
Boylan worried that issues he supported will be ignored under Lake’s representation.
“It’s unfortunate,” Boylan said, regarding his loss. “I think it’s bad for Ravalli County.”
Lake said that he plans to run for the state senate after he serves his final term in H.D. 88.