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Incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has won re-election to his third term, fending of a challenge from Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale.

Despite an unprecedented four trips to the state by President Donald Trump to try to defeat him, Tester emerged with 49 percent, or 218,145 votes, to Rosendale’s 48 percent, or 213,934 votes, in unofficial totals. That's a lead of 4,211 votes.

The race was expected to be close from the start; Tester has never captured 50 percent of the vote in his past two wins in 2006 and 2012. [Complete coverage of Montana's Senate race.] 

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Republican incumbent Greg Gianforte appeared to have won re-election over Democrat Kathleen Williams Tuesday night in Montana's U.S. House race.

With 313 precincts partially reporting and 331 fully reporting of 669, Gianforte held 53 percent of the vote to Williams' 44 percent, or 206,862 votes to 169,882 as of 3:10 a.m.

NBC called the race for Gianforte a little before midnight Tuesday, and Gianforte announced around that time that he was confident he would win, but was going to bed. [Complete coverage of Montana's House race.]

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Montana voters appear to have thrown support behind public higher education.

Roughly one hour and 20 minutes after the polls closed, some 63 percent of the ballots counted had said "yes" to continue funding the 6-Mill Levy, according to results from the Montana Secretary of State.

The levy provides an estimated $19 million a year to the Montana University System, and voters have supported it every 10 years since 1948.

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One of the most closely watched, and expensive, legislative races in Montana remained too close to call Tuesday night.

Senate District 49 measures about 500 square miles, stretching from western Missoula to the Idaho state line. Incumbent Sen. Diane Sands first won the Senate seat by just 35 votes in 2014. This year, she not only faced the challenge of appealing to both urban and rural voters, but also an opponent with star power: Former Griz and NFL running back Chase Reynolds.

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In a big flip from their first matchup, assistant Municipal Court Judge Alex Beal appeared to be carrying a deep lead over incumbent Justice of the Peace Marie Andersen in the initial vote counts.

Results as of 11 p.m. Tuesday showed Beal with 61 percent of the vote — 11,191 to Andersen's 7,248, with all 52 precincts partially reported.

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With only partial results available, a slim majority of voters favored approving a proposed county-wide $15 million general obligation open space bond. The same was true for a proposed perpetual city-wide conservation land stewardship levy.

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Republican Bowen Greenwood has taken a slight lead in early election returns for Montana’s clerk of Supreme Court, with ballots from only 15 percent of the state’s registered voters counted.

At 10 p.m., Greenwood had 50 percent of the vote to 45 percent of his main opponent, Democrat Rex Renk. Libertarian Roger Roots had 5 percent in the early returns.

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Republican incumbent Gale Decker enjoyed a healthy lead in early counting of the Lake County commissioner's race Tuesday night.

With 31 percent of the votes counted, Decker had a 59-to-41 percent lead over Democrat challenger Caroline McDonald.

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Montanans voting in this year's midterm election don't feel good about the direction the country is going, with 52 percent of people telling the Associated Press the nation is headed in the wrong direction. Forty-four percent say it is going in the right direction.

Among people who voted in Tuesday's election, job approval for President Donald Trump was effectively even. About 48 percent of voters surveyed approved of the president's performance and 51 percent disapproved.

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Election officials counted votes late Tuesday for ballot issues on extending the state's expanded Medicaid program by raising the tobacco tax and on imposing new cleanup standards on mines.

Too many votes were outstanding to determine whether those two citizens' initiatives had passed or failed. Yellowstone County election officials previously said it could take until Wednesday morning to count all of its votes because the ballot issues are on the second page of the two-page ballot.

Initiative 185 would raise taxes on all tobacco products by $2 for a pack of cigarettes and eliminate the sunset date for expanded Medicaid services for low-income Montanans, which otherwise ends June 30, 2019.

Initiative 186 would require the Department of Environmental Quality to deny a permit for any new hardrock mines in Montana unless the reclamation plan provides clear and convincing evidence that the mine will not require perpetual treatment of water polluted by acid mine drainage or other contaminants. 

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Elections workers in some Montana counties are seeing higher numbers of provisional ballots being cast. Dayna Causby, elections administrator for Missoula County, said a record number of people requested absentee ballots, and many people came to the elections center to request address changes and name changes. Some of those voters are now casting provisional ballots on election day.

Here is our complete coverage of the 2018 midterm elections.


Despite four trips to the state by President Donald Trump to try to defeat him, incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Tester held an early and comfortable lead over Republican challenger Matt Rosendale, the state's auditor.

Tester led with 53 percent of the vote to Rosendale's 44 percent with about a  fifth of the state's votes counted. By 9:40 p.m., about 149,350 votes had been counted.

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