Montana Democrats are tentatively set to pick their nominee to compete for the state’s at-large congressional seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, who is expected to be confirmed as Secretary of the Interior by the Senate. The state party is planning to hold its nominating convention in Helena this coming weekend.
According to a Montana party official, the voters who will be picking the candidate are divided into four different groups:
- The 35 county Central Committees, each of which gets four delegates.
- Elected officials and party leaders (This includes Governor Steve Bullock, House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, and Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso)
- The executive board of the Montana Democratic Party
- Partner organizations (Examples include, but are not limited to, the MEA, AFL-CIO, Young Democrats, Big Sky Democrats, and Stonewall Democrats)
There are eight candidates running for the nomination:
- Kelly McCarthy (Legislator, Billings)
- Amanda Curtis (Legislator, Billings)
- Rob Quist (Musician, Flathead Valley)
- Dan West (Former Obama administration official, Missoula)
- John Meyer (Environmental attorney, Bozeman)
- Gary Stein (Teacher, Missoula)
- Link Neimark (Business owner, Whitefish)
- Tom Weida (Traveling salesman, Helena)
The candidates have to be physically present at the nominating convention, they cannot send a proxy or representative on their behalf. Each candidate has to be nominated by one of the voting delegates. There is a short comment period for candidates and delegates to make their arguments on who the delegates should vote for, followed by the voting.
There will be an estimated 180-200 votes at the convention. A candidate needs 50 percent of the votes plus one to win. If none of the candidates are able to get a majority, delegates vote on another ballot. This process continues until a winner with a majority of the vote prevails. The winner will square off against the Montana Republican Party’s nominee in a special election, which will tentatively be scheduled 85-100 days after Zinke’s resignation from the House of Representatives.