Montana GOP paints state red in sweep of federal, statewide vote

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
I voted

Voters adapt to an election upended by the coronavirus pandemic Nov. 3 by placing their mail ballots in boxes at the Beaverhead County Courthouse. Election officials had boxes both inside and outside the courthouse to maintain physical distancing between voters. Each box was watched by two election judges at all times. Casey S. Elliott photo

Beaverhead County voters, like Montana voters across the state, left no debate questions on the table regarding the matter of the political direction the citizens of the Treasure State would like to see Montana travel. By record margins, Montanans spoke with a conservative voice at the polls last Tuesday.

Statewide, a record voter turnout of 82.92% elected Republican candidates in every single major race. The GOP received similar overwhelming support from Beaverhead County voters who turned out at an amazing 92.7%.

In the race for our country’s top office, the Republican ticket of President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael R. Pence dominated the Democrat ticket of Joseph R. Biden and Kamala D. Harris by 16 points, 57% to 41%, on the Montana ballot. The win slotted Montana’s three Electoral College votes in the Trump-Pence column early on in the General Election process. With vote counting progress slowed in pivotal swing states across the country, Americans waited until Saturday before the announcement that Biden was the president-elect.

The landslide-like margin for Republicans in Montana came despite numerous Libertarian candidates on the ballot in different races. Libertarian candidates typically siphon off Re publican voters. Between the Montana Primary Election and the General Election, the Montana Democratic Party successfully went to court and kept the Green Party off the Montana ballot. Green Party candidates typically lower Democratic vote totals.

Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen and his running mate Jeremy “Spikes: Cohen garnered 3% of the votes cast on Montana ballots in the presidential race.

In the other federal elections, Montanans supported incumbent U.S. Senator Steve Daines, a Republican, over Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, the Democratic nominee, 55% to 45%.

The GOP margin was even larger in the race for Montana’s open U.S. Representative seat, with Republican Matt Rosendale defeating Democrat Kathleen Williams, 56% to 44%.

State-wide, the GOP enjoyed a similar sweep by large, double-digit voting margins:

Governor/Lt. Governor – Republican Greg Gianforte and running mate Kristen Juras outdistanced Democrats Mike Cooney and Casey Schreiner, 54% to 42%, with Libertarian candidates Lyman Bishop and John Nesper taking 4% of the vote.

Attorney General – Republican Austin Knudsen 58%, Democrat Raph Graybill 42% for the open seat.

State Auditor – Republican Troy Downing 55%, Democrat Shane A. Morigeau 39%, Libertarian Roger Roots 5%.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Republican Elsie Arntzen 52%, Democrat Melissa Romano 44%, Libertarian Kevin Leatherberry 4%.

State-wide ballot measures:

Constitutional Amendment C-46: Changed language from one-half of counties to one-third of legislative districts to get Ballot Initiatives on ballot. Yes 75%, No 25%.

Constitutional Amendment C-47: Changed language from one-half of counties to one-third of legislative districts to get Constitutional Initiatives on ballot. Yes 77%, No 23%.

Constitutional Initiative CI-118: Set legal buy age for recreational marijuana in Montana at 21. Yes 58%, No 42%.

Legislative Referendum No. 130: Removed local governments’ power to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons. Yes 51%, No 49%.

Initiative No. 190: Created rules for a recreational marijuana system in Montana. Yes 57%, No 43%.

Republicans also swept the three regional Public Service Commission seats on the ballot. Dillon’s Jim Brown, a Republican, defeated Democrat Tom Woods of Bozeman, in the race for the PSC District 3 seat, 54% to 44%. In District 2, Republican Terry O’Donnell 63%, Democrat Valerie McMurty 37%, and in District 4, Republican Jennifer Fielder 52% over Democrat Monica Travel, 48%.

Montana Senate District Races:

Senate District 36: Incumbent Senator Jeff Welborn, a Republican from Dillon, defeated Libertarian John Lamb of Norris, 80% to 20%. The district encompasses Beaverhead and Madison County, and parts of Jefferson and Silver Bow.

Montana House District Races:

House District 71: Twin Bridges Republican Kenneth M. Walsh defeated Libertarian Ian Root, 75% to 26% for the open seat that covers Madison County and parts of Jefferson and Silver Bow.

House District 72: Dillon Republican Tom Welch ran unopposed and received 100% of the votes cast. The district includes Beaverhead County and a part of Silver Bow County.

Beaverhead County races:

Clerk of District Court: Republican Carly Jay Anderson of Dillon ran unopposed and received 99% of the vote.

County Commissioner District 1: Incumbent Republican Commissioner C. Thomas Rice ran unopposed and received 98% of the vote.