- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A look at Tuesday’s midterm election results in Montana.

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TOP OF THE TICKET

Republican Steve Daines won a seat in the U.S. Senate before he even completed his first term as Montana’s only congressman.

Daines defeated Amanda Curtis, a legislator from Butte and a math teacher who became the Democratic nominee after U.S. Sen. John Walsh dropped out of the race in August amid a plagiarism scandal.



Daines, Curtis and Libertarian Roger Roots competed for the Senate seat that Democrats have held for more than 100 years, more than a third of that by Max Baucus. Baucus resigned in February to become ambassador to China, and Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Walsh to complete the rest of Baucus’ term.

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OPEN HOUSE SEAT

Republican Ryan Zinke prevailed over Democrat John Lewis to keep Montana’s sole U.S. House seat in GOP hands for a tenth straight term.

The seat had been left open by Daines’ Senate run.

Zinke is a former state senator from Whitefish and former Navy SEAL. He ran on his military background and on the need for domestic energy development to improve the nation’s economy.

Lewis, a longtime aide to Baucus, was making his first run for office. He had pledged to support both traditional and renewable energy development and criticized Zinke for his positions on guns, abortion and climate change.

Libertarian Mike Fellows ran a distant third in the race.

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SUPREME COURT RACES

Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat easily turned back a challenge from former state solicitor general Lawrence VanDyke.

Wheat, a former state legislator, keeps a seat he was appointed to in 2010 by then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Outside groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads and mailers in the race.

Wheat’s contributors were mostly attorneys. VanDyke’s support came from conservative individuals and groups including the Republican State Leadership Committee.

That led Wheat to say the state’s court system was under attack from outside groups seeking rulings in favor of their political leanings.

In a second Supreme Court race, Billings attorney W. David Herbert failed to unseat Justice Jim Rice, who has been on the bench since 2001.

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PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

Republican and former Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson won an open seat on the Public Service Commission.

Democratic state Rep. Galen Hollenbaugh had been looking to break a Republican lock on the five-member panel.

The western Montana seat was left open when PSC chairman Bill Gallagher said he was stepping down after being diagnosed with cancer.

Hollenbaugh could not run for his House seat again because of term limits.

The PSC regulates utility companies in the state, most recently approving NorthWestern Energy’s $900 million purchase of 11 hydroelectric dams previously owned by PPL Montana.

Republican Travis Kavulla ran unopposed to retain his seat on the PSC serving central and northeastern Montana.

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LEGISLATURE

Republicans looked to maintain their majorities in the state House and Senate.

Democrats had hoped redistricting and a large field of candidates will upend Republican control of one or both chambers in the state Legislature.

Up for election were 25 Senate seats and 100 House seats. Going into the election, Republicans held a 29-21 majority in the Senate and a 61-39 majority in the House.

Democrats were hopeful to chip away at those numbers in the first election since district boundaries were redrawn according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The party fielded candidates in every race before the primaries.

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LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUMS

Voters defeated a ballot issue that would bar people from registering on Election Day.

The initiative sought to make the Friday before Election Day the deadline for late voter registration.

Opponents said the Republican-backed measure would deny some people the right to vote. Proponents said it would ease congestion at polling places on Election Day.

Also on the ballot was a proposed constitutional amendment that would change the name of the state auditor to the commissioner of securities and insurance. Yes votes trailed opposition to the measure trailed by a thin margin.

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