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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Third Montana Democrat Enters Race For Zinke's House Seat

State Representative Kelly McCarthy has expressed interest in running to fill Rep. Ryan Zinke's House seat.
Montana Legislature

A third Montana Democrat has announced interest in the party’s nomination for the state’s lone Congressional seat.

President-elect Donald Trump nominated Republican U.S Congressman Ryan Zinke to be the next Secretary of the Interior Department. If Zinke wins that nomination, Democratic Billings State Representative Kelly McCarthy says he'd like to step in to replace him:

"There’s just no better honor than to be the lone voice of Montana in the U.S. House," McCarthy says.

The 50-year-old McCarthy, a Billings native and three-term state representative, is a business consultant who served in the U.S. Intelligence Community after a stint in the Air Force.

McCarthy is the Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee chair and also serves on the Montana Democratic Party’s executive board. He thinks Democrats stand a good chance at reclaiming Montana’s House seat:

"Having a contentious race like we just had at the top of the ticket, it did have an impact on what happened down ballot," McCarthy says. "We’re not going to see Trump and Hillary’s name on this ballot. In the past we’ve [Democrats] done really well in statewide races. There’s no reason to think, if we put up a good candidate that’s not going to be the same this time."

Great Falls State Representative Casey Schreiner also intends to seek the Democratic party’s nomination for the House seat. Amanda Curtis, a Butte Democrat, has said she might be interested in the nomination.

At least half a dozen Republicans also hope to be the GOP’s nominee. They include state lawmakers Daniel Zolnikov of Billings, Scott Sales of Bozeman and Ed Buttrey of Great Falls. Corvallis resident Gary Carlson, District Judge Russell Fagg of Billings and Bozeman businessman Eugene Graf IV are also seeking the nomination.

Montana’s special election date has not yet been set. State law says it’s up to the governor to do that, and the date must be between 85 and 100 days after Montana’s congressman officially resigns his seat.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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