A Green Wave Seen in MT Election?
Monday, November 14, 2022
Candidates supporting conservation efforts held strong in last week's election in Montana.
While Republicans captured a supermajority in the state Legislature, candidates promoting access to public lands also won their races.
In northern Montana, one conservation-minded candidate even managed to flip a Republican seat. State Rep-elect Paul Tuss, D-Havre, won his race and said access to the outdoors is a winning issue in Montana.
"As I spent the last nine months talking on the doorsteps and garages and front porches of people in a pretty rural area," said Tuss. "The truth is that it didn't matter what their political leanings are. The vast majority of people that I talked to are strong supporters of public lands in our state."
With its veto-overriding majority, Montana Republicans are looking to possibly make changes to the state's Constitution next session and send those changes to voters for final approval.
Tuss said he'll push back to ensure that Montanans' constitutional right to a "clean and healthful environment" stays intact.
Nearly three dozen Montana Conservation Voter-supported candidates won on election day.
State Sen. Shane Morigeau, D-Missoula, also won his election on a pro-conservation platform.
He said he's concerned lawmakers could move to block access to public lands next session and said it would be a mistake because the outdoors are important to Montanans' self-identity.
"I have always been a staunch advocate for protecting our access and our public lands because I think it really is our birthright in Montana," said Morigeau. "I think that's why people come here, that's why we've seen such an influx of people coming to Montana - because the secret's out. You know, it's a beautiful place to live."
Denise Hayman - D-Bozeman - who spent four terms in the House of Representatives, won a seat in the Senate last week.
She too said it will be important to protect Montanans' constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment in 2023.
Hayman also said climate change is here and effecting Montana's landscape, so it's important to promote renewable energy sources in the state.
"We need to be looking at other ways of producing energy," said Hayman, "and I am passionate about exploring ways of producing energy without using fossil fuels."
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