The Missoula County Democrats voted on Tuesday, May 13, to change their bylaws, allowing them to endorse T.J. McDermott for sheriff in the primary election. 

Communications Director Pam Walzer issued a press release stating that McDermott was the only true Democrat in the race for Missoula County Sheriff.

"We were told, and it became obvious in our Democratic forum, that there were two people who had filed as Democrats, who have not shown that they are Democrats," Walzer said. "They have repeatedly identified as Republicans, and had a significant amount of Republican supporters."

Walzer was referring to the other two candidates, Josh Clark and Bob Parcell. She said the committee chose to change their bylaws to address the situation in asserting that both Clark and Parcell had misidentified themselves as Democrats.

"After much deliberation, we chose to one, change our bylaws to address that circumstance," Walzer said. "And, two, a two-thirds vote to endorse one candidate or sets of candidates over another. This would essentially censure any candidate that had in our mind falsely filed as a Democrat."

photo courtesy of Josh Clark

Fellow Democratic candidate Josh Clark reacted angrily to what he felt was a betrayal of his own party to unfairly favor one candidate over another in the primary.

"The primary is supposed to give the voters the decision of who their candidate is going to be," Clark said. "It seems like they're going to every effort to strip the power away from the voters, and put the power in the hands of the people who run the Democratic Central Committee."

Democratic Candidate for Sheriff Josh Clark

The dynamic of the race for sheriff, as with the Missoula County Attorney race, is that the election will be decided in the primary, since there are no Republicans or Independents running for either office. When asked what the committee's reaction would be should McDermott lose to either Clark or Parcell in the primary, she replied, "we should have acted sooner."

Communications Director for Missoula County Democrats Pam Walzer