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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Republicans are poised to secure a supermajority in the state Legislature

Montana Legislature.
Corin Cates-Carney
See live election results for all Montana races.

If current vote tallies hold, Montana legislative Republicans are claiming supermajority status after the midterm election. According to unofficial results, they’ll pick up at least three seats in the state Senate and further solidify their stronghold in the House of Representatives ahead of the 2023 legislative session.

GOP Senate candidates are poised to flip two seats in Great Falls and a third in the Deer Lodge area that were previously held by Democrats. They’re also likely to pick up at least net two seats in the state house of representatives. That adds up to 103 Republican lawmakers in the 150-seat state Legislature.

Republican Sen. Greg Hertz of Polson said, “We had a good night legislatively. We talked about the issues that citizens of Montana are concerned about, and those are primarily pocketbook issues. And they responded to us and rewarded us.”

One race has been flagged for a possible recount. Republican Ralph Foster is ahead of Democrat Incumbent Marvin Weatherwax Jr. by just ten votes in the race for a House district in northwest Montana.

Democrats left 36 seats uncontested.

Despite their apparent losses, Democrats flipped two seats with victories in Havre for Paul Tuss and Missoula for Jonathan Karlan. They held off competitive challengers in parts of Indian Country and Missoula, but are also likely to lose two Native American-majority districts historically held by Democrats.

Democrat Willis Curdy appears to have kept a Missoula Senate district in his party’s hands after beating Republican House Majority Leader Brad Tschida, according to unofficial results.

Curdy spoke with MTPR at an election night watch party in Missoula about the stakes of his race, including the possibility of a Republican supermajority proposing to amend the state’s constitution to ban abortion.

“It did add a lot of pressure to the race,” said Curdy, “You know, it’s pressure, a lot of folks talking to me, saying, Willis, this race is really important. And it pushed me to work harder and harder.”

One party has not held supermajorities in both chambers of the statehouse and the governor’s office at the same time in nearly a century. In a news release, senate Republicans said they’ll focus on tax relief, handling Montana’s budget surplus and red tape relief next session.

Both parties will soon meet in Helena to elect legislative leaders.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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