Republicans back bill to change election rules — only for the upcoming Senate race
A Republican-backed bill to create a “jungle primary” that would box-out third party candidates in the next U.S. Senate race in Montana has advanced.
Senate Bill 566 would create a primary system in which the top two candidates who win the most votes advance to the general election, regardless of party. Right now, each party has separate primaries and advances a winner.
Sen. Greg Hertz, a Republican from Polson, said the bill aims to ensure the most popular candidate wins for a high profile office.
“These are six year terms and to me, if we’re going to send someone to Washington, D.C., they should have the majority support of our voters,” Hertz said.
Hertz called his bill a test run as it includes a sunset date in 2025.
The bill would take effect ahead of the 2024 campaign, when U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is up for reelection. Tester is the last remaining statewide elected Democrat and his bid to hold office is expected to be highly competitive.
In 2012, Tester faced both a Republican and Libertarian candidate. Rep. Hertz highlighted that election saying Tester won with less than 50% of the vote.
Senate Minority Leader Pat Flowers pointed out that in 2022, U.S. Congressman Ryan Zinke also won with less than 50% of the vote due to a third-party candidate, but the bill won’t address U.S. House races. Flowers said it’s obvious the bill is targeted at Tester.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, this is just brazen partisanship targeting a single race. This isn’t fair, this isn’t what Montanans want, they don’t want one party rule,” Flowers said.
The Montana Libertarian Party said in a statement that they oppose the bill, calling it an unabashed attempt to eliminate Libertarian access to the ballot. Libertarians tend to pull votes from Republican candidates.
Senate Bill 566 has passed out of the Senate 27-23 and will now move onto the House for consideration.
A bill forcing groups to post a bond when requesting a judge temporarily block hunting or trapping regulations has been vetoed by Gov. Greg Gianforte. Much of the state Capitol complex will transfer hands from the executive branch to state lawmakers in July. Gov. Greg Gianforte allowed that policy to become law, but didn’t sign it.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has removed $23 million in infrastructure projects passed by the state Legislature, claiming the projects weren’t thoroughly vetted.
Lake County commissioners delayed a decision Thursday about whether to stop county law-enforcement work on the Flathead Reservation. The delay comes as the county waits for a court to weigh in.
A state judge has temporarily blocked new restrictive abortion policies from going into effect while their constitutionality can be hashed out in court. Montana Public Radio’s Shaylee Ragar was in the courtroom and joined Austin Amestoy to break down what happened.
Montana’s attorney general joined 50 other attorneys general from around the country in a lawsuit against a communications company accused of facilitating billions of spam robocalls.