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Contested primaries across Montana's new state legislative districts

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Posted at 6:54 PM, May 31, 2024

HELENA — In addition to all the statewide elections Montanans will be voting in this year, they’ll also be choosing 125 state lawmakers.

Half of the Montana Senate and the entire Montana House will be up for election, and we already know there will be some differences in the Legislature when they arrive for their 2025 session.

The most obvious change for many Montana voters will be that the legislative districts they live in may have changed. This will be the first election cycle under the new district lines that the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission finalized last year. All 100 House districts and 50 Senate districts have to be redrawn every ten years, after the release of federal census data, to account for shifting populations.

Montana Legislative Districts

Along with the new lines, there are also going to be more contested legislative primaries this year than in 2022. Out of the 125 races, 44 feature at least two Republican candidates, and 15 have multiple Democrats. That’s compared to 31 contested GOP races and 13 Democratic primaries last election.

Cascade County alone has seven contested Republican primaries, and Flathead County has six. Gallatin, Missoula and Lewis and Clark Counties each have three contested Democratic primaries.

The new lines have many incumbent lawmakers shuffling around and seeking to represent a wholly or partly different district. In addition, in 23 races, an incumbent is facing at least one challenger.

Four districts across the state have two current lawmakers facing off in their primaries – all of them Republicans.

Current Reps. Caleb Hinkle, R-Belgrade, and Jennifer Carlson, R-Manhattan, are running against each other in House District 68, in northwest Gallatin County. Additionally, former House Speaker and Senate President Scott Sales is also in the GOP primary there.

Two House members – Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, and Rep. Josh Kassmier, R-Fort Benton – are facing off for an open Senate seat in Senate District 13, which covers Chouteau County and much of rural Cascade County.

In Ravalli County, Sen. Theresa Manzella, R-Hamilton, is running for reelection in Senate District 44. She’s being challenged by Rep. Wayne Rusk, R-Corvallis, as well as a third GOP candidate, Brad Davis of Victor.

In Senate District 38, which covers Powell, Granite and Jefferson Counties, Sen. Becky Beard, R-Elliston, is running for a full term after being appointed to the Senate. The other candidates in the primary include Rep. Greg Frazer, R-Deer Lodge, and Jeremy Mygland of East Helena.

Also of note this year, Gov. Greg Gianforte is weighing in on GOP legislative primaries, giving his endorsement to 58 candidates across the state – including 24 in contested races, and 3 challengers to incumbents. Gianforte backed Sales over Hinkle and Carlson, Kyle McMurray over Rep. Jane Gillette and Randyn Gregg over Rep. James Bergstrom.

Montana Legislative Primaries with Multiple Candidates:

Republicans:

  • House District 2 (Southern Lincoln County and Marion): Thomas Jenkins, Tom Millett
  • House District 7 (Kalispell): Rep. Courtenay Sprunger, Shaun Pandina
  • House District 8 (Evergreen): Rep. Tony Brockman, Lukas Schubert
  • House District 9 (Lakeside and Somers): Lee Huestis, Steven Kelly
  • House District 11 (Eastern Flathead County): Ed Byrne, Rob Tracy
  • House District 16 (Glacier County): Rolland Heagy, Elaine Utterback Mitchell
  • House District 18 (Toole and Pondera Counties and part of Teton County): Rep. Llew Jones, James Coombs
  • House District 19 (Great Falls): Derren Auger, Hannah Trebas
  • House District 20 (Great Falls): Rep. Steven Galloway, Elizabeth Nikolakakos
  • House District 21 (Black Eagle): Rep. Ed Buttrey, James Osterman
  • House District 22 (Great Falls): Rep. George Nikolakakos, Jim Whitaker
  • House District 23 (Great Falls): Pete Anderson, Josh Denully, John Proud, Eric Tilleman
  • House District 26 (Chouteau County and parts of Cascade County): Rep. Russ Miner, Dana Darlington
  • House District 28 (Hi-Line): Eric Albus, former Rep. Wayne Stahl, Mark Wicks
  • House District 29 (Northeastern Montana): Miles Knudsen, Valerie Moore
  • House District 33 (Dawson County and southern Richland County): Rep. Brandon Ler, Kathy Hoiland
  • House District 38 (Musselshell, Golden Valley and northern Yellowstone Counties): Rep. Greg Oblander, Nancy Kemler
  • House District 40 (Lockwood): Mike Vinton, Josh Visocan
  • House District 47 (Billings): Thomas Mahon, Stephanie Moncada
  • House District 53 (Yellowstone County): Rep. Nelly Nicol, David Austin
  • House District 55 (Carbon County): Rep. Brad Barker, Lisa Bennett, Mary Horman
  • House District 63 (Bozeman): Joe Flynn, Mark Lewis
  • House District 68 (Gallatin County): Rep. Caleb Hinkle, Rep. Jennifer Carlson, former Sen. Scott Sales
  • House District 70 (Beaverhead County): Mike Klakken, Shannon Maness, Mary Ann Nicholas
  • House District 76 (Powell and Granite Counties): Rep. John Fitzpatrick, Dave Kesler
  • House District 77 (Broadwater County, Three Forks and Manhattan): Rep. Jane Gillette, Kyle McMurray
  • House District 78 (Central Montana): Rep. James Bergstrom, Randyn Gregg
  • House District 79 (Lewis and Clark County): Demetri Joslin, Jill Sark
  • House District 83 (Helena and East Helena): Wes Feist, Christopher St. Jean
  • House District 84 (Helena Valley): Rep. Julie Dooling, Jon Jackson
  • House District 85 (Southern Ravalli County): Rep. Michele Binkley, Kathy Love
  • House District 86 (Hamilton): Rep. David Bedey, Robert Wallace
  • House District 88 (Northern Ravalli County): Kim Dailey, Greg Overstreet
  • House District 90 (Mineral County and parts of Missoula and Sanders Counties): Curtis Cochran, Steven Delisle, Jeff Stanek
  • Senate District 5 (Southern Flathead County): Marquis Laude, Rep. Matt Regier
  • Senate District 13 (Chouteau County and parts of Cascade County): Rep. Josh Kassmier, Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway
  • Senate District 15 (Northeastern Montana): Gregg Hunter, Rep. Rhonda Knudsen
  • Senate District 17 (Southeast Montana): Mike Newton, Rep. Bob Phalen
  • Senate District 27 (Laurel): Sen. Chris Friedel, former Rep. Vince Ricci
  • Senate District 35 (Madison and Beaverhead Counties): Mark McGinley, former Rep. Ray Shaw, Tony Tezak
  • Senate District 38 (Powell, Granite and Jefferson Counties): Sen. Becky Beard, Rep. Greg Frazer, Jeremy Mygland
  • Senate District 44 (Northern Ravalli County): Sen. Theresa Manzella, Brad Davis, Rep. Wayne Rusk
  • Senate District 45 (Mineral County and parts of Missoula and Sanders Counties): Rep. Denley Loge, AnnaMarie White
  • Senate District 47 (Missoula): Abigail Maki, Erica Siate

Democrats

  • House District 3 (Whitefish and West Glacier): Former Rep. Debo Powers, Guthrie Quist
  • House District 31 (Fort Peck and Fort Belknap): Rep. Frank Smith, Lance FourStar
  • House District 58 (Livingston): Jamie Isaly, Dean Williamson
  • House District 62 (Bozeman): Rio Roland, Josh Seckinger
  • House District 63 (Bozeman): John Hansen, Peter Strand
  • House District 65 (Bozeman): Brian Close, Anja Wookey-Huffman
  • House District 79 (Lewis and Clark County): Emily Harris, Luke Muszkiewicz, Anne Woodland
  • House District 82 (Helena): Pete Elverum, SK Rossi
  • House District 84 (Helena Valley): Michele Crepeau, David Williams
  • House District 97 (Missoula): Melody Cunningham, Lisa Verlanic Fowler
  • House District 100 (Missoula): Rep. SJ Howell, Tim Garrison
  • Senate District 16 (Fort Peck, Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy’s): Former Rep. Bridget Smith, Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy
  • Senate District 21 (Crow and Northern Cheyenne): Former Rep. Rae Peppers, Rep. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy
  • Senate District 36 (Butte and Anaconda): Former Rep. Sara Novak, former Sen. Jessica Wicks
  • Senate District 46 (Parts of Missoula, Lake and Sanders Counties): Jacinda Morigeau, CB Pearson