With the dawn of 2024, Montana finds itself on the precipice of a bustling election season, featuring key races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governorship, and beyond. Rob Saldin, the Director of the Mansfield Center’s Ethics and Public Affairs program and a distinguished political science professor at the University of Montana, aptly described the scenario to MTN as a ‘packed dance card.’
At the forefront of these contests is the closely watched U.S. Senate race, where incumbent Democrat Jon Tester is vying for an unprecedented fourth six-year term. Tester, renowned for his ability to outperform Democratic presidential candidates in Montana, faces the challenge of navigating a political landscape that leaned heavily towards Donald Trump in the 2020 elections.
As Tester gears up for the general election, the potential for a competitive Republican primary adds an element of intrigue. Businessman and Navy veteran Tim Sheehy, buoyed by endorsements from prominent Republicans, has entered the race, launching extensive TV ad campaigns to enhance his profile.
The uncertainty of U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale entering the race introduces a layer of complexity. With his previous statewide campaigns and name recognition, Rosendale could significantly influence the dynamics of the Republican primary. Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson has also thrown his hat into the GOP nomination ring.
While the Libertarians make their presence felt with Kalispell city councilman Sid Daoud in the Senate race, the only certainty lies in the anticipated surge of campaign spending, continuing the trend of record-breaking expenditures witnessed in previous Senate elections.
Turning attention to the U.S. House races, the western district anticipates a potential rematch between incumbent Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat Monica Tranel. Meanwhile, the eastern district sees potential Republican candidates waiting on Rosendale’s decision, with Democrats Kevin Hamm and Ming Cabrera already in the mix.
In the gubernatorial arena, although Governor Greg Gianforte is yet to make a formal announcement, all signs point towards a bid for a second term. Historical patterns, the state’s Republican leanings, and the nationalization of politics work in Gianforte’s favor for a potential reelection.
Other notable battlegrounds include the State Land Board offices, where Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen seek reelection. The state auditor’s office appears to be an open field with incumbent Troy Downing eyeing a U.S. House campaign. The superintendent of public instruction position is up for grabs, attracting Republican contenders Sharyl Allen and Susie Hedalen, alongside Democrat Shannon O’Brien.
Shifting the focus to the Montana Supreme Court races, officially nonpartisan, presents a unique dynamic. With Chief Justice Mike McGrath and Associate Justice Dirk Sandefur opting out of reelection, candidates such as Jerry Lynch and Cory Swanson are vying for the chief justice position.
The official candidate filing period, spanning from January 11 to March 11, promises to unveil the complete roster of contenders, shaping Montana’s political landscape for the entirety of 2024.”
By: Politics406 staff