2014 elections

Dartmouth College may be looking at a substantial fine for violating Montana’s campaign finance laws.

Today State Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl found that the school, along with Stanford University, broke state law last October, when the two mailed fliers to 100,000 people in Montana purporting to rank candidates for state supreme court on a liberal to conservative scale.

Flathead 911 Ballot Measure Fails After Re-count

Nov 24, 2014

A vote re-count in Flathead County Friday resulted in a ballot measure failing by 10 votes.

The measure would have changed the funding stream for the county’s 911 operations center, adding a per-household fee in exchange for reducing contributions from Kalispell and Whitefish. County Administrator Mike Pence says local leaders are looking to the future.

"They definitely think we ought to put it back on the ballot. It would probably be at least a year and a half or two years from now," said Pence.

Justice Wheat: Attack Ads Won't Impact Court Decisions

Nov 13, 2014
Courtesy Mike Wheat

Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat says the partisan attack launched against him as he ran for re-election won’t impact his work on the state’s highest court.

Eliza Wiley

Do Montana Democrats have a messaging problem? Will post-election talk of bi-partisanship translate into action? Sally, Chuck and Mike talk about these things and more on the final election season episode of "Campaign Beat."

Former MTPR news director and now Senior News Analyst Sally Mauk hosts the program. She's  joined by Lee newspapers Capitol reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.

Montanans Vote To Keep Same-Day Voter Registration

Nov 5, 2014
File Photo

Montanans rejected efforts to curb late voter registration Tuesday.

The legislative referendum, LR-126, would have ended the ability for people to register to vote as late as Election Day, which has been allowed in Montana since 2006.

With 78 percent of precincts in, the Associated Press reported that 56 percent had voted to keep same-day registration and 44 percent had voted to end it.

Brad Johnson Decisively Wins Seat on PSC

Nov 4, 2014

Brad Johnson is set to write another chapter in his political biography.

The former Secretary of State cruised to victory in the District 5 race for the Public Services Commission. He will replace retiring Republican colleague Bill Gallagher.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) Montana. File photo.
Courtesy photo, Ryan Zinke

Ryan Zinke, Montana's new U.S. Representative spoke with MTPR Assistant News Director Edward O'Brien late Tuesday.

Zinke says he's ready to get to work in Congress representing the people of Montana.

"I understand the responsibility. You not only represent the people who voted for you, but you represent the folks that did not. I think it's time to roll up the sleeves and get things done."

U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis remained upbeat in defeat tonight. She thanked her supporters and said "I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done over the last 80 days."

Curtis spoke with MTPR News Director Eric Whitney late Tuesday night.

Eric Whitney

Steve Daines was declared the winner of Montana's U.S. Senate race just minutes after the polls closed.

MTPR News Director Eric Whitney spoke with Daines at his victory celebration in Bozeman tonight.

Daines talked about some of the things he hopes to achieve in the Senate.

Ryan Zinke Rides GOP Momentum To Election In U.S. House Race

Nov 4, 2014
Jessie Mazur

  In a battle of two first-time Congressional candidates, Republican Ryan Zinke scored a solid victory over Democrat John Lewis Tuesday night.

Like many other Republicans nationwide, Zinke ran a campaign highly critical of President Barack Obama, pledging to end the president’s health care law and criticizing American policy against Islamic extremists.

The Associated Press called the race with 26 percent of the precincts reporting.

Zinke, a retired Navy Seal, stressed his military background as a central part of his campaign.

Mike Wheat Fends Off Outside Money To Keep Supreme Court Seat

Nov 4, 2014

In a race that saw more than $700,000 in outside money spent to influence voters, Justice Mike Wheat fended off a challenge from former Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke.

“I think it’s a testament to the voters in Montana recognizing that their votes can’t be bought,” Wheat said Tuesday night. “In my race, voters looked at the fact that I’ve been in Montana, I’ve been practicing law here and I have experience.”

Steve Daines Scores Historic Win In U.S. Senate Race

Nov 4, 2014

In a historic GOP win Tuesday evening, first-term U.S. Congressman Steve Daines scored a decisive victory over Democratic opponent Amanda Curtis to for one of Montana’s Senate seats.

The Associated Press called the race just after the polls closed.

In the wake of his win, he told MTPR that he would focus on "moving legislation."

"We need to look at what is possible to pass through the Congress and that can be implemented," he said Tuesday night. " We need to make sure we're not just passing symbolic votes."

General Election Results 2014

Nov 4, 2014

Election results for 2014 Montana and national races.

Eric Whitney

MTPR News Director Eric Whitney is covering the Steve Daines election night watch party at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman tonight.

Earlier today he spoke briefly with the Republican Congressman at a press conference, after Daines and his wife Cindy voted at the county election office on Main street. 

"It's bringing back a lot of memories today," Daines said, pointing to the building across the street. "That's where I went to fifth and sixth grade right there, back when it used to be Wilson Middle School."

Steve Jess

Helena's Democrats have chosen a very memorable setting for their watch party: It's Exploration Works, a science museum normally teeming with school-age children. Candidates and party officials are wandering among the exhibits that highlight the inner life of cells, or explaining how solar power works.

It's a colorful background for this election night, though some of the seats are a bit lower to the ground than you might be accustomed to.

Homegrown Candidates Tout Their Roots; Do Voters Care?

Nov 4, 2014

 Native-born Montanans have a deep sense of pride. But if you’re one of the 54 percent of Montana residents born elsewhere, you might wonder why that seems to be such a big deal in the state’s election campaigns.

Montana candidates are eager to show voters that they and their families have deep roots in the Big Sky Country. Most TV ads feature the candidate telling viewers how long his or her family has been here.

libbymt.com

Voters in Montana’s cities can sometimes face long voting lines. We checked in with election officials in a couple of small towns to see how things are going for them.

"The turnout is brisk," Leigh Riggleman, Lincoln County Assistant Elections Administrator in Libby says. "Our polling stations seem to be very busy. Our front counter for late registration has been steady. (We) always like to see good voter turnout."

Riggleman says Lincoln County has roughly 13,000 registered voters and seven polling stations, but she says voting by mail is getting more popular every year.

Steve Jess

Montana Governor Steve Bullock cast his ballot in Helena this morning,  and then met with reporters outside the Helena Civic Center. Montana Public Radio’s Capitol Bureau Chief Steve Jess was there.

The Democratic Governor politely dodged questions about who he voted for, except to say that no one would be surprised if they knew. But he reminded Montana voters that many elections, especially on the local level, are decided by slim margins, so every vote really does count.

Eric Whitney

Our national election coverage will begin at 6:00 p.m. with NPR’s election night special coverage.

Coverage of local races starts at 8:00 p.m., and we’ll have local reports and analysis every thirty minutes until at least 10:00 p.m.

We’ll have reporters in Helena and Bozeman. Here in Missoula, Edward O’Brien will host our coverage. Joining him in the studio will be our Senior News Analyst Sally Mauk.

Snapshot: Ad Spending In The Montana Federal Races

Nov 3, 2014
Ric Sanchez

This year's elections have paled in comparison to the $50 million spent on 2012's fight between Sen. Jon Tester and former Congressman Denny Rehberg, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been any activity on television.

We culled through reports from Missoula-area broadcasters to get a sense of the amount of money being spent in the top races in the state.

Outside Money Puts Spotlight On High Court Race

Nov 3, 2014
Jessie Mazur

Campaigns for the Montana’s Supreme Court may be nonpartisan by law, but record spending and aggressive ads by independent groups is making one high court race look anything but.

This week on Campaign Beat: Is the Stanford/Dartmouth apology too little, too late? Who is Americans for Prosperity and why are they spending so much on a Montana Supreme Court race? How effective are the new ads in the House and Senate races?

"Campaign Beat," our weekly political analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the fall election season.

Former MTPR news director and now senior news analyst, Sally Mauk, hosts the program. She's  joined by Lee newspapers Capitol reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.
 

Absentee Voting Surges Ahead Of 2010 Numbers In Most Counties

Oct 31, 2014

Early voter turnout looks good -- especially for a midterm election year.

Turnout tends to dip in years without a presidential election, but the absentee voting numbers are already looking higher in Montana’s largest counties than they were in 2010.

“Every election, the number of absentees continue to grow,” said Lewis and Clark County election administrator Paulette DeHart.

Early Voting Gives Campaigns Less Time To Win Voters Over

Oct 29, 2014

More Montanans are taking advantage of absentee voting, and the trend is forcing campaigns to adapt quickly or get left behind.

The rapid increase in absentee voting means campaigns have less time to convince most their constituents to vote for them.

In the 2014 primary, absentee votes made up 68.9 percent of all votes cast. In the 2006 general election, only 29.5 percent of people voted absentee.

Dartmouth College and Stanford University today apologized for a controversial Montana campaign mailer. They’ll send follow-up letters to the 100,000 people who got that mailer, telling them to ignore it. Those letters are supposed to arrive before election day.
 
"I think it’s a good first step," says Linda McCulloch, Montana's Secretary of State. "I think it’s a good pre-election step."

State of Montana

Update 10/28/14
Read the apology letter from Stanford and Dartmouth here

Lawyers representing Stanford University spoke with Montana’s commissioner of political practices today about a controversial campaign mailer.

That flyer, sent to about 100,000 Montanans last week, used the state seal without permission, and purports to show the political leanings of those running for two seats on the state supreme court. Supreme court races in Montana are by law non-partisan.

"Campaign Beat" recaps the recent House and Senate debates, looks at another outside funded ad in a Montana Supreme Court race, and talks about the mailer that's spawned outrage among many Montanans.

"Campaign Beat," our weekly political analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the fall election season. Former MTPR news director and now senior news analyst, Sally Mauk, hosts the program. She's  joined by Lee newspapers Capitol reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.
 

Courtesy photo

Tonight we have the fourth in a series of in-depth interviews with the four major party candidates for Montana’s U.S. House and Senate seats.

In this extended interview, we hear from Republican Steve Daines, who’s running for Montana’s seat in the U.S. Senate. He spoke with Montana Public Radio News Director Eric Whitney.

Listen to the extended version below. Due to technical problems, the extended interview did not go the full 30 minutes like the interviews with other candidates.

Have you received an official-looking mailer that rates the political leanings of Montana's four nonpartisan Supreme Court candidates?

If so, take a close look at it; the flier features an image of Montana's state seal and compares the candidates' political ideologies to those of President Obama and former Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Problem is, it's a fake. The state of Montana has nothing to do with these mailers.

Christopher B. Allen

Tonight we have the third in a series of in-depth interviews with the four major party candidates for Montana’s U.S. House and Senate seats.

In this extended interview, we hear from Democrat Amanda Curtis, who’s running for Montana’s seat in the U.S. Senate. She spoke with Montana Public Radio News Director Eric Whitney. We'll post our interview with her opponent, Republican Steve Daines tomorrow.

You can listen to the 10-minute broadcast version of our interview above, or the 30-minute extended version below.

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