Montana maintains party leadership

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November 19, 2010

By Christopher Bedford

HELENA, Montana: Despite a challenge from Tea Party-favorite Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel), moderate Republican Rep. Mike Milburn (R-Cascade) held the speakership for the Montana House of Representatives Republican Party in Wednesday's election[1] Milburn will take the helm of a newly-elected Republican majority.

The Democratic Party, which, after two years of even-strength, suddenly finds itself in the minority, chose to elect former Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Rep. Jon Sesso (D-Butte) to the role of House minority leader.[2]

In the Senate, both parties re-elected previous leadership, placing Sen. Jim Peterson (R-Buffalo) as president of the Senate, with 2007 Senate Majority Leader Sen. Carol Williams (D-Missoula), taking the role of Senate minority leader.[2]

In the tight race for House speaker, Milburn's use of the heated anti-federal rhetoric of the Tea Party may have played a part in his victory. "This election send a clear message," he said. "America looked socialism in the eye, and they said, 'we're scared.' They said we need to stop doing just about everything Washington has been doing the last few years."[3]

In his last legislative session as executive, Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer will face his first entirely Republican-controlled Legislature when he releases his budget proposal Monday.[1]

Montana House of Representatives
Party As of November 1, 2010 After the 2010 Election
     Democratic Party 50 33
     Republican Party 50 67
Total 100 100

Montana State Senate
Party As of November 1, 2010 After the 2010 Election
     Democratic Party 22 22
     Republican Party 27 28
     Vacancy 1 -
Total 50 50