Montana Democrats' process in special U.S. House election


On December 13th 2016, news sources reported President-Elect Trump nominated Representative Ryan Zinke as his choice for Secretary of the Interior.  Rep. Zinke has reportedly accepted the nomination only 38 days after being elected as Montana’s lone congressman.  If Rep. Zinke’s nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rep. Zinke would vacate Montana’s House seat creating a situation in which a Special Election would be held.   This memo outlines the process of filling the vacated House seat upon confirmation of Representative Zinke as Secretary of the Interior.


Once the President-elect has forwarded his nomination for a cabinet position to the U.S. Senate there will have to be confirmation hearings. Timing on the confirmation process is unpredictable as the Senate could start hearings on cabinet nominations as early as January 3, 2017 but no nominee can be confirmed until after the President is sworn in on January 20. 

Once the House seat is vacated and the Governor receives official notice, he will set a date for a special election to be held no less than 85 days and no more than 100 days from the date he was notified. 

Selection of Nominees

In the event a Special Election is called, each political party will hold a nominating convention to select their nominee for the open U.S. House seat.  The Democratic Party’s process for that convention is set forth in the Montana Democratic Party’s Rules.  The State Chair shall call a Special Nominating Convention for the purpose of choosing a Democratic nominee.  Only members of the Montana Democratic Central Committee shall be entitled to vote in the nominating process. The person receiving a majority of votes shall be the party’s nominee.  Any Democrat can be nominated and run to be the party’s nominee for the special election. 

Makeup of the State Central Committee includes voting members of the executive board, state party leadership, regional district leaders, county central committee leaders, elected statewide officials and members of partner organizations.


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