Legislative Lowdown: Identifying competitive Montana elections in 2014

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March 17, 2014

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2014 Montana Legislative Lowdown

Table of Contents
Majority control
Margin of victory
Competitiveness

Other 2014 Election coverage
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By Ballotpedia's State legislative team

March 10 was the signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run for Montana State Senate and Montana House of Representatives. Elections in 25 Senate districts and 100 House districts will consist of a primary election on June 3, 2014, and a general election on November 4, 2014.

On February 12, 2013, the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission finalized maps for the 100 House Districts and 50 Senate Districts.[1][2] Although the maps had yet to be finalized at the time, an analysis of the new districts by the IR State Bureau in December 2012 showed Republicans would most likely continue to control the Legislature through the next decade, but that Democrats would have a chance. According to the analysis, Republicans would have 42-47 relatively safe House seats and 21-24 safe Senate seats. Democrats, meanwhile, would have 32-39 relatively safe House seats and 19-20 safe Senate seats.[3]

See also: State legislative elections, 2014, Montana State Senate elections, 2014 and Montana House of Representatives elections, 2014

Majority control

Heading into the November 4 election, the Republican Party holds the majority in both state legislative chambers. Montana's office of Governor is held by Steve Bullock (D), making the state one of 14 with a divided government.

The difference in partisan composition between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate is eight seats, or 32 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. There are 23 districts where two major party candidates will appear on the general election ballot. In 2012, a total of three districts had a margin of victory in the general election of 5 percent or less. Another two districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[4]

Montana State Senate
Party As of November 3, 2014 After November 4, 2014
     Democratic Party 21 20
     Republican Party 29 29
     Uncalled 0 1
Total 50 50

With the vacant seat counting towards the party that previously held the seat, Republicans hold an advantage of 22 seats in the House, or 22 percent of the chamber. There are 88 districts where two major party candidates will appear on the general election ballot. In 2012, a total of seven districts had a margin of victory in the general election of 5 percent or less. Another 11 districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[5]

Montana House of Representatives
Party As of November 3, 2014 After November 4, 2014
     Democratic Party 39 41
     Republican Party 61 59
Total 100 100
2015
2013
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2014 State Legislative Elections

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Competitiveness

Using the official candidate lists from each state, Ballotpedia staff analyzes each district's election to look at the following circumstances:

  • Is the incumbent running for re-election?
  • If an incumbent is running, do they face a primary challenger?
  • Are both major parties represented on the general election ballot?

In Montana's 2014 elections, those circumstances break down as follows:[6]

  • There are 46 open seats (36.8%) in the two chambers.
  • A total of 19 incumbents (24.1%) face a primary challenger.
  • 111 districts (88.8%) will feature a Democratic and Republican candidate on the general election ballot.

The following table puts the 2014 data into historical context. Overall index is calculated as the average of the three circumstances.

Comparing Montana Competitiveness over the Years
Year  % Incs retiring  % incs rank  % Incs facing primary  % Incs primary rank  % seats with 2 MPC  % seats with 2 MPC rank Overall Index Overall Index Rank
2010 39.7% 6 14.5% 30 72.2% 18 42.1 12
2012 34.9% 4 20.7% 26 81.0% 11 45.5 10
2014 36.8% Pending 24.1% Pending 88.8% Pending 49.9 Pending

Senate

The following table details competitiveness in the Montana State Senate.

Montana Senate Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
68.0% 25.0% 92.0% 61.7

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In two (8.0%) of the 25 districts up for election, there is only one major party candidate running for election. Two Democrats are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 23 of the 25 districts up for election.

Primary challenges

A total of two incumbents will face primary competition on June 3. Eleven incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another seven incumbents will advance past the primary without opposition. The state representatives facing primary competition include:

Retiring incumbents

Eleven incumbent representatives, two Democrats and five Republicans, are not running for re-election, while seven (28.0%) are running for re-election. Those retiring incumbents are:

Name Party Current Office
Jon Sonju Ends.png Republican Senate District 4
Verdell Jackson Ends.png Republican Senate District 5
Shannon Augare Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 8
Anders Blewett Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 11
Mitch Tropila Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 12
Edward Walker Ends.png Republican Senate District 29
Jason Priest Ends.png Republican Senate District 30
Larry Jent Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 32
Art Wittich Ends.png Republican Senate District 34
Dave Lewis Ends.png Republican Senate District 42
David Wanzenried Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 49

House

The following table details competitiveness in the Montana House of Representatives.

Montana House Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
29.0% 23.9% 88.0% 47.0

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In 13 of the 100 districts up for election in 2014, one major party candidate will run unopposed in the general election. A total of 12 Democrats and one Republican are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 88 of the 100 districts up for election.

Primary challenges

A total of 17 incumbents will face primary competition on June 3. Twenty-eight incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 54 incumbents will advance past the primary without opposition.

Retiring incumbents

Twenty-eight incumbent representatives are not running for re-election, while 73 of the current 99 incumbents (73.73%) are running for re-election. Those retiring incumbents are:

Name Party Current Office
Scott Reichner Ends.png Republican House District 9
Mark Blasdel Ends.png Republican House District 10
Pat Ingraham Ends.png Republican House District 13
Frosty Calf Boss Ribs Electiondot.png Democratic House District 15
Lea Whitford Electiondot.png Democratic House District 16
Jesse O'Hara Ends.png Republican House District 18
Carlie Boland Electiondot.png Democratic House District 23
Brian Hoven Ends.png Republican House District 24
Kris Hansen Ends.png Republican House District 33
Wendy Warburton Ends.png Republican House District 34
Bill McChesney Electiondot.png Democratic House District 40
Duane Ankney Ends.png Republican House District 43
Douglas Kary Ends.png Republican House District 48
Cary Smith Ends.png Republican House District 55
Krayton Kerns Ends.png Republican House District 58
Joanne Blyton Ends.png Republican House District 59
David Howard Ends.png Republican House District 60
Franke Wilmer Electiondot.png Democratic House District 63
JP Pomnichowski Electiondot.png Democratic House District 66
Gordon Vance Ends.png Republican House District 67
Ted Washburn Ends.png Republican House District 69
Amanda Curtis Electiondot.png Democratic House District 76
Galen Hollenbaugh Electiondot.png Democratic House District 81
Wylie Galt Ends.png Republican House District 83
Pat Connell Ends.png Republican House District 87
Douglas Coffin Electiondot.png Democratic House District 93
Carolyn Squires Electiondot.png Democratic House District 96
Champ Edmunds Ends.png Republican House District 100

See also

External links

References