Posted: Nov 3, 2010 5:03 PM by Marnee Banks
Updated: Nov 4, 2010 9:17 AM
Montana voters spoke loud and clear about who they want to control the 62nd Montana Legislature, with Republicans sweeping both houses.
Preliminary results show the GOP walked away with 67 seats in the House, a two-thirds majority.
MT GOP executive director Bowen Greenwood says he was shocked at how many seats the Republican Party picked up.
"Democracy and self-government in a representative republic is awe-inspiring to watch it when it really works. It is not something that anybody expected. I think most folks who spent a lot of time in politics get a little bit jaded after a while. But last night we had the opportunity to watch what a form of self government is really supposed to look like when the people speak," Greenwood said.
Republicans also took control of the state Senate, securing 28 seats and leaving Democrats with just 53 seats spread between both houses. Greenwood says this is the largest majority that Republicans have seen here in Montana since the 1960's.
Montana Democrats chairman Jim Elliott says the results show the influence of out of state money and dirty campaign tactics.
"It will be very very interesting. I don't know what kind of legislation will be coming forward but it's going to make it a very interesting dynamic in the next legislative session. One that I have never seen," Elliott says.
Senator Jim Peterson of Buffalo is expected to toss his hat in the ring for the position of President of the Senate, while Senator Jeff Essmann of Billings will be seeking the position of majority leader.
Essmann says the results from election night speak for themselves, adding, "First and foremost, our fundamentals were right. We recruited good candidates. We had a good message in terms of our principles of approach towards government that resonated with the Montana voters, and we had a great execution of our campaign efforts by our candidates."
Republican Representative Mike Milburn of Cascade tells Montana's News Station he is running for Speaker of the House; he noted, "I think what we need to do is recognize why we were sent here. Why were the Republicans nationwide, too? Why were we sent to Congress? Why were we sent to Helena? And those issues are the economy, economy, and jobs."
Representative Tom McGillvray of Billings is taking a shot at House majority leader, too, and said, "We have worked hard for those majorities and my goal as majority leader is to continue to lead the political process in Helena. I think we just got a clear call from the folks of Montana to limit the scope of government."
The Democrats have not said who will take the minority leadership in the Legislature yet, but party caucuses are slated to meet on November 17th and Montanans will begin to see the effects of election night put into play.
Reporter Marnee Banks sat down with Governor Brian Schweitzer on Wednesday to discuss the election results, and will have an extended interview with him Thursday.