Special Election Planned to Fill Zinke’s Congressional Seat
Now that Ryan Zinke has been confirmed as the new U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the Montana Secretary of State's Office has provided information about a special election to fill Zinke's unexpired term.
State Elections Director Derek Oestreicher said on Wednesday, that Governor Steve Bullock called for a special election on May 25.
"The governor had a date range of between 85 to 100 days and he picked the 85th day, the soonest day possible," Oestreicher said. "The participating parties will have their nominating conventions in the next 10 days to pick their candidates to run for Ryan Zinke's seat. Each party will choose a candidate according to their own rules."
The election will be on May 25, but Oestreicher said it is still unclear if it will be a standard polling place election, or a mail-in ballot election.
"According to Montana Code Annotated Title XIII, Chapter 13, Part 104 states expressly that 'a special federal election cannot be conducted by an all-mail ballot unless it is expressly authorized by the legislature'," he said. "We are treating this like any other election. We will maintain uniformity and integrity during the process."
Oestreicher said Montana has made history with our first citizen ever to be appointed to the Cabinet of a sitting President.
"We as Montana should take a lot of pride in the fact that this is a first for us," he said. "In my position as director of elections we have to march forward to the special election to fill the empty seat."
Democrats will be choosing their candidate Sunday in Helena, and KGVO News learned on Wednesday afternoon that state Republicans will be choosing their candidate this coming Monday, also in Helena. State Republican Party Chairman Jeff Essmann said that decision was made earlier today.
"I've called the special meeting of the Montana Republican State Central Committee to meet on Monday, March 6. We'll have pre-meeting events starting at about 2:00 p.m. and our formal meeting will gavel in at 6:00 p.m. for us to select a nominee."
Essmann said seven hopefuls have paid the $1,750 filing fee to have their names be considered as the Republican nominee.
"The second step of the process will be providing signatures of at least 10 state committee members representing at least five different counties, and then our third step will be validating that our candidate meets the legal and constitutional requirements to serve as a Congressman," he said. "I look forward to having a gathering of over 200 enthusiastic grassroots Republicans assembled to choose the nominee,. This last happened for the Republican Party in 1969."
Essmann said he is hopeful that with the right candidate and a great deal of hard work, Republicans can retain the seat they've held since Rick Hill was elected in 1997.