2012 elections review:Four incumbents defeated in Montana primaries

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June 5, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The fast-moving primary season of May and June continued with elections in Montana yesterday.

Montana held primary elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, State Senate, and State House.

Contested Primaries in Montana -- June 5, 2012
U.S. House
(1 seat)
State Legislature
(150 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 1 (100%) 16 (10.7%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 1 (100%) 29 (19.3%)


U.S. Senate

United States Senate elections in Montana, 2012

In the Senate race for Democratic incumbent Jon Tester's seat, Tester ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket.[1] Republican leaders have been targeting Senator Tester, who they see as the key to their takeover of the Senate. Polls show a tight race between Tester, who was first elected to his seat in 2006, and Republican Representative Denny Rehberg, who defeated challenger Dennis Teske to win his party's nomination for Tester's seat.[1]

Also running in 2012 are Libertarian candidates Dan Cox and Jerry McConnell. The unusual presence of two Libertarian primary contenders in the race has lead the state’s election chief to put both Libertarian candidates on the general election ballot instead of conducting a costly and separate Libertarian primary.[2] Secretary of State Linda McCulloch said that a separate Libertarian primary would have cost counties a combined total of $350,000 to $390,000.[2]

U.S. House

United States House of Representatives elections in Montana, 2012

Contenders battled for the open seat in Montana's at-large district, as incumbent Denny Rehberg (R) is challenging current U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D) for his seat in the Senate.

On the Democratic ticket, state senator Kim Gillan defeated challengers Diane Smith, Dave Strohmaier,Rob Stutz, state representative Franke Wilmer, Sam Rankin, and Jason Ward. In addition to the seven Democratic candidates running for the seat, Republican candidates Steve Daines, Eric Brosten, and Vincent Melkus battled each other for the nomination. In the end, Steve Daines emerged as the winner, and will face Kim Gillan (D) in the general election.[1]

Joining Gillan (D) and Daines (R) in the general election is Libertarian candidate David Kaiser.

Members of the U.S. House from Montana -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 0 0
     Republican Party 1 1
Total 1 1

State legislature

There are a total of 150 state legislative seats up for election this year. With two party primaries in each district, there were 300 possible primaries yesterday. Out of those 300 possible occurrences for voters to choose between multiple candidates, there were only 45 contested primaries. In other words, in 85% of the Montana state legislative primaries, there was only one candidate running on the ballot -- or none at all.

  • There were 11 contested primaries in the Senate.
  • There were 34 contested primaries in the House.


Three Senate incumbents faced a primary challenge, two of whom dispatched their primary opponent.


In the House, 14 incumbents faced a primary challenge. Three House incumbents were defeated in Tuesday's primary.

Montana State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 22 23
     Republican Party 27 27
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 50 50

Montana House of Representatives
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 32 37
     Republican Party 68 63
Total 100 100

See also

Ballotpedia News

External links