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Montana Republicans preparing for super majority in Legislature

Posted at 6:03 PM, Nov 09, 2022

As the dust continues to settle from election night Tuesday, it's looking like Montana Republicans are going to maintain control of the state Legislature with a super majority.

That means that of the 50 seats in the state Senate and 100 in the state House, for a total of 150, at least 100 will be occupied by Republicans. According to a press release from Communications Director for Senate Majority Kyle Schmauch, it is something that hasn't been accomplished since the Legislature took its current form in 1975 following the writing of the state's new Constitution.

A super majority would grant legislative Republicans more power than any part has had in Montana in recent memory. The party has enough to votes to reopen and possibly change the state's Constitution or override vetoes from Gov. Greg Gianforte, also a Republican.

Mike Yakawich is one of the Billings Republicans celebrating big wins around the state. He won House District 51 over Democrat Carole Boerner. Yakawich spent Wednesday picking up his political signs from the various yards around town.

“I’ve met a lot of the people running for office, and they’re amazing people," Yakawich said. "Hard working, dedicated— I believe we’re in good hands."

Yakawich said that a super majority for his political party will be great, but that he hopes they can do what is best for all Montanans.

“I hope that we can find common ground, and that we can work together for the best interest of the state of Montana,” Yakawich said.

Republicans did not win every race though. Eighteen-year-old Elijah Tidswell was looking to make history in state Senate District 24, which includes neighbors near the Rims west through around 24th Street West. He came up short in his campaign and lost to Democrat Kathy Kelker.

“Even though it didn’t end up going my way, I’m so appreciative of the people who showed their support and showed up and did what they could,” Tidswell said.

As one of the state's youngest up-and-coming Republicans, Tidswell is moving on and looking ahead. He said that he hopes the country becomes less divisive in the future.

"It’s a great view of where we’re at right now because it is a 50/50 country, and we’re seeing that in elections," Tidswell said. "It’s a little bit scary because I think that means we’re just moving further and further apart.”

On the national scale, the "Red Wave" predicted by many pundits didn't come to fruition for Republicans, and there were some wins for Democrats in the Montana Legislature. Emma Kerr-Carpenter won her race House District 49 race in Billings over Republican Jeff Wylie.

Kerr-Carpenter said she's used to not being in the majority and looks forward to attempting to work with all Montanans, even those across the aisle.

“I’ve never been in the majority, so it’s always about building relationships in my caucus and across the aisle,” Kerr-Carpenter said.

With Republican super majority basically in hand, she will certainly need to.