1984 Montana Democratic Primary.
I knew then, I had to do a little more digging to find out how this came to be. Gary Hart seems to be a candidate that should have won the primary, being a Senator from neighboring Colorado.
Earlier in year, back in March of 1984 Montana Democrats had met for a Caucus. Hart would beat Mondale in the caucus and gain 11 of the 19 delegates up for grabs. Mondale would take 8 and the remaining 6 were unpledged super delegates that could vote for whomever they wanted.
The cause of the caucus being the deciding factor for delegates was Montana had an open primary law that year and it allowed non Democrats to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. The DNC was not happy about this and forced the state party to abide by the caucus result to allocate delegates are lose the standing of the entire delegation at the convention. The delegates would have gone unseated and probably made the situation back in Montana very bad for the party.
On primary day, the votes were cast and uncommitted ended up taking over 80% of the vote. It is unclear if this was deliberately done by non Democrats to make the field look weak or if because by June it was already apparent that Gary Hart was not going to be the nominee and that Mondale was still seen as a lackluster candidate to Montanans. Without access to any exit polling all we can do is speculate.
If you've got a Montana item from the 1984 race, send us an image. We'd love to see it. I was able to secure this uncommon 1984 Gary Hart pin for under $15 dollars. While it is uncommon, it isn't the first Montana pin that people just dive over each other to get or enter into fierce bidding wars.