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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Republican lawmakers elect new legislative leaders for upcoming session

2022-republican-leadership-11-16-22.jpg
Shaylee Ragar
/
Montana Public Radio
Montana Republican representatives vote for legislative leaders during a caucus on Nov. 16, 2022.

Montana Republican lawmakers have elected new legislative leaders for the House of Representatives and state Senate ahead of the 2023 session.

Representative-elect Bob Keenan, who ran the Republicans’ House caucus Wednesday, told his colleagues they have cause for celebration.

“Smile everybody – we’re running the place,” Keenan said.

During the 2022 midterm election, Republicans won a 68-seat supermajority in the House of Representatives and a 34-seat supermajority in the state Senate. In addition to holding the governor’s office, it’s the most power held by the GOP in the Montana state house in nearly a century.

Republican senators elected Jason Ellsworth of Hamilton as Senate President over Sen. Keith Regier.

Republican Rep. Matt Regier of Kalispell was elected Speaker of the House. Regier beat out challenger Rep. Casey Knudsen for the job.

Montana’s Republican Party is known for the factions between its more moderate and conservative members. Both Knudsen and Regier called for unity in the upcoming session. Regier said one legislator shouldn’t be louder than the next.

“But even though we do have our differences, I believe it is safe to say that we can all coalesce around the foundation that makes up the Republican brand – that is freedom and liberty and respect for the people of Montana,” Regier said.

In the House, Rep. Sue Vinton will reprise her role as Majority Leader and Rep. Rhonda Knudsen was elected Speaker Pro Tempore. In the Senate, Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick was elected Majority and Sen. Kenneth Bogner was elected President Pro Tempore.

Legislative leaders' next order of business is to assign lawmakers and chairs for each committee.

The Legislature is scheduled to get underway January 2.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing shaylee.ragar@mso.umt.edu.