LAW AND GOVERNMENT OF MONTANA

State capitol in Helena
The current Governor is Brian Schweitzer (Democrat) who was sworn in on January 3, 2005. Its two U.S. senators are Max Baucus (Democrat) and Jon Tester (Democrat). Montana's congressional representative is Denny Rehberg (Republican). The state was the first to elect a female member of Congress (Jeannette Rankin) (Republican) and was one of the first states to give women voting rights (see suffrage). Despite its sizable American Indian population, Montana is one of the most homogenous states — nearly 90% of its residents are of European descent, with a large number of immigrants of German, Irish, Welsh, Slavic, English, Italian, Slovak and Scandinavian heritage arriving in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A significant portion of Chinese (Cantonese) immigrants also came and left an indelible mark on the state, especially in the mining cities of Helena, Butte, and Anaconda.

Politics
Historically, Montana is a swing state of cross-ticket voters with a tradition of sending "liberals to Helena (the state capital) and conservatives to Washington." However, there have also been long-term shifts of party control. During the 1970s, the state was dominated by the Democratic Party, with Democratic governors for a 20-year period, and a Democratic majority of both the national congressional delegation and during many sessions of the state legislature. This pattern shifted, beginning with the 1988 election, when Montana elected a Republican governor and sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate for the first time since the 1940s. This shift continued with the reapportionment of the state's legislative districts that took effect in 1994, when the Republican Party took control of both houses of the state legislature, consolidating a party dominance that lasted until 2004. The state last supported a Democrat for president in 1992, when Bill Clinton won a plurality victory. Overall, since 1889 the state has voted for Democratic governors 60% of the time and Democratic presidents 40% of the time, with these numbers being 40/60 for Republican candidates.

In recent years, Montana has been classified as a Republican-leaning state, as the state supported President George W. Bush by a wide margin in 2000 and 2004. However, the state currently has two Democratic U.S. Senators and a Democratic governor (Brian Schweitzer), elected in 2004. In the 2006 midterm elections, Democratic candidate Jon Tester narrowly defeated (by only 3000 votes) incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns,one of several crucial races that allowed the Democratic Party to win the majority in the U.S. Senate. Montana's lone US Representative, Republican Denny Rehberg, easily won reelection in 2006 as well as in 2008. Long time Senator Max Baucus won reelection in 2008 with a massive majority of votes. The state Senate is, as of 2009, controlled by the Republicans. The State House of Representatives is tied with the speaker of the house coming from the Democratic Party. In the 2008 presidential election, Montana was considered a swing state and was ultimately won by Republican John McCain, albeit by a narrow margin of two percent. On April 17, 2007, Montana became the first state to pass legislation against the federal government's Real ID Act. Gov. Schweitzer signed a bill banning the Montana Motor Vehicle Division from enforcing the new regulations.

Luciano Mende

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