- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - On his Facebook page, 18-year-old Jacob Bachmeier has the usual selfies, including one cuddling his baby sister and another showing him in the great outdoors with a huge backpack. But these days, the recent high school graduate is trying to depict a more serious image, wearing suits and ties, as he makes a bid to become the youngest member of the Montana Legislature.

Two weeks after graduating high school, Bachmeier beat retired English professor Will Rawn in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for a tiny House district that sits within Hill County.

Now, with the help of a former high school classmate serving as his campaign manager, Bachmeier has his sights on the Republican incumbent, Rep. Stephanie Hess.

In the wee hours of Friday, he was still on Facebook, telling his 347 subscribers about a recent press interview.

“Question from the Associated Press: Should Stephanie Hess be worried about your candidacy?” he posted. “Me: If she’s not already worried, she better be. And if she does not get worried, then that is her mistake.”

By some accounts, Republicans should be worried about holding on to a seat in a Hi-Line community that’s supposed to favor Democrats because of recent redistricting - even though the last few officeholders of House District 28 have been from the GOP.

The chair of the Hill County Republican Central Committee, Andrew Brekke, said Bachmeier is a serious candidate.

“He certainly has a lot of youthful exuberance. You know, that’s important. He’s not the same old candidate who we see Democrats run in certain areas that don’t put up much of a fight,” said Brekke, who unsuccessfully ran for a legislative seat when he was 19. “He’s certainly taking his fight seriously. He’s got a lot of signs up, and he’s knocking on doors.”

But Brekke said Hess better represents the values of the district, which encompasses the town of Havre, a Democratic outpost in mostly rural Montana.

Hess, who is seeking a second term, did not immediately reply to several requests for comment.

Some Hill County Democrats recruited Bachmeier to run for the House seat last fall after recounting how well he sparred with Hess and another Republican legislator during a high school leadership program. Bachmeier, then 17, had pointedly disagreed with the two Republicans on whether guns should be allowed on school campuses and in bars.

The county Democratic Party soon after elected Bachmeier to be its vice chair.

Bachmeier calls himself a political junkie, and he’s already strategizing about a long career in politics. His grandfather, Rex Manuel, served in the House from 1973 to 1989.

“I’m a force to be reckoned with,” Bachmeier said. “Even if I lose.”

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