2012 elections preview: Montana voters to select winners in congressional, legislative primaries

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June 4, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The fast-moving primary season of June and June reaches capacity today with elections in Montana, California, Iowa, and New Mexico.

Here's what to watch for in Montana, where polling places will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.[1]

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

The outcome of the Senate race in Montana will determine the political future of incumbent U.S. Senator Jon Tester and could possibly alter the balance of power in Washington.

Republican leaders have been targeting Sen. Tester, whom they see as the key to their takeover of the Senate. Polls show a tight race between Democratic Sen. Tester, who was first elected to his seat in 2006, and Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg.

A Billing Gazette poll conducted in mid-March showed Sen. Tester ahead of Rep. Rehberg by just one point, 46 to 45 percent.

Rehberg announced his candidacy in February 2011, and is expected to prevail against his primary opponent, Dennis Teske, a farmer and political first-timer.

The race also features two Libertarians, Jerry McConnell of Missoula and Dan Cox of Hamilton. Both candidates will appear on the November ballot because state election officials ruled that a primary contest would be too costly.

U.S. House

Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg’s departure from Montana’s at-large House seat to run against Democratic Senator Jon Tester prompted a scramble among several candidates to replace him.

On the Democratic side, state senator Kim Gillan squares off against businesswoman Diane Smith, Missoula city council member Dave Strohmaier, attorney Rob Stutz, state representative Franke Wilmer, real estate broker Sam Rankin, and contractor and farmer Jason Ward.

In the Republican primary, businessman Steve Daines faces engineer Eric Brosten and student Vincent Melkus.

David Kaiser is running as the Libertarian candidate in the race.

State legislature

Montana State Senate elections, 2012 and Montana House of Representatives elections, 2012

There are 126 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 26 Senate seats and 100 House seats.

There are 16 (12.7%) contested Democratic primaries and 29 (23.0%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there will be 45 races tomorrow with at least two candidates on the ballot. The 45 major party primaries represents 17.9% of possible primaries tomorrow. This figure is lower the current national contested average of 22.84% for states that have had filing deadlines.


In the Senate, there are a total of 3 incumbents facing a primary challenge - one Democrat and two Republicans.

Republican Party District 3: Incumbent Bruce Tutvedt is challenged by Jayson Peters and Rollan Roberts II.
Republican Party District 6: Incumbent Carmine Mowbray is running against Michael Larson and House incumbent Janna Taylor.
Democratic Party District 16: Incumbent Jonathan Windy Boy faces Frank J. Smith.


In the House, there are a total of 14 incumbents facing a primary challenge - 2 Democrats and 12 Republicans.

Republican Party District 9: Incumbent Scott M. Reichner is challenged by Frank Mutch.
Republican Party District 13: Incumbent Pat Ingraham is running against Kirk McNutt.
Republican Party District 18: Incumbent Jesse O'Hara will face Randy Pinocci.
Democratic Party District 32: Incumbent Tony Belcourt is challenged by Clarena M. Brockie.
Republican Party District 45: Incumbent Tom Berry is running against Mark Higgins.
Republican Party District 60: Incumbent David Howard will face Kathy Haman and Dale Milligan.
Republican Party District 62: Incumbent Dan Skattum is challenged by Juanita Lux.
Republican Party District 69: Incumbent Ted Washburn is running against William Bennett.
Republican Party District 71: Incumbent Bob Wagner will face Robert Kennedy and Ray L. Shaw.
Republican Party District 77: Incumbent Alan L. Hale is challenged by Kirk B. Wagoner.
Republican Party District 87: Incumbent Pat Connell is running against Scott Boulanger and Jeff Burrows.
Republican Party District 88: Incumbent Ron Ehli will face Marlin Foss.
Republican Party District 90: Incumbent Edward Greef is challenged by Ron Pifer.
Democratic Party District 94: Incumbent Ellie Hill is running against Pete Burridge and Lou Ann Crowley.

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

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