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2006 United States Senate election in Montana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2006 United States Senate election in Montana

← 2000 November 7, 2006 2012 →
Conrad Burns official portrait.jpg
Nominee Jon Tester Conrad Burns
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 199,845 196,283
Percentage 49.2% 48.3%

Montana Senate Election Results by County, 2006.svg
County results
Tester:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Burns:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

U.S. Senator before election

Conrad Burns

Elected U.S. Senator

Jon Tester

The 2006 United States Senate election in Montana was held November 7, 2006. The filing deadline was March 23; the primary was held June 6. Incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns ran for re-election to a fourth term, but was defeated by Democrat Jon Tester by a margin of 0.87%, or 3,562 votes out of 406,505 cast.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Nation to Nation: 02 Opening Remarks by Senator Jon Tester


Now, it is my great pleasure to introduce United States Senator Jon Tester. We are honored today by the presence of Senator Tester who will give opening remarks. Senator Tester, a third generation farmer from Big Sandy, Montana and a former teacher, is a senior U.S. Senator from Montana. Following election to the Montana Senate in 1998, Senator Tester rose to minority whip and minority leader before becoming president of the state senate in 2005. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and again in 2012. Senator Tester is chairman of the Indian Affairs committee and also serves on the Veteran’s Affairs, Homeland Security, Indian Affairs, Banking and Appropriations committees. In the U.S. Senate, he is an outspoken voice for rural America and an advocate for small businesses. He’s a champion of American Indian nations, pushing for improvements in education, health care, and housing and working to alleviate poverty. Please join me in welcoming the Honorable Jon Tester, United States Senator. Thank you, thank you very much. Well, thank you Tim for that kind introduction, thank you for the warm welcome. It is great to be here today to celebrate the opening of the Nation to Nation exhibit. This exhibit is a tangible reminder of the federal government’s relationship with the sovereign tribal nations of this country. It’s also a reminder of the moral and legal obligations that the United States has to honor and uphold our treaties with Indian country. The United States has 566 recognized tribes as sovereign entities, with their own governments and their own laws. Sovereign is a key word, a treaty is formal, written agreements between sovereign states. And the constitution clearly states a treaty is the supreme law of the land. The documents shown in this exhibit may be on parchment or on hide and displayed behind glass cases. But don’t mistake them for relics of the past, these are living, breathing documents that inform our policies to this very day. History shows that the newly formed government of this country learned a lot from its relationship with Indian country. The early leaders of this nation based many of the guiding principles that we cherish today on the enlightened democratic tenets of these tribal governments. One of the very first treaties entered into by the United States government and a tribal nation was the Treaty of Canadaigua. That document is on display here and I encourage my Senate colleagues as well as all of you to take a look. It’s an important reminder of the long, lasting bonds and obligations between the United States and Indian country. Let’s be clear, there is no time limit to the legitimacy and impact of these documents. They don’t have an expiration date and they do not become less relevant over time. Just as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they are living, guiding documents. Many of the treaties signed by the tribes were in exchange for large portions of their lands, often millions of acres. They were negotiated by the tribes in good faith in exchange for the promise of support. Support that would address their citizens’ health, education, and welfare. Often these tribes gave up some of their best territories and in exchange the federal government made promises through these treaties to provide for and protect the tribes and to work with them to ensure the survival of their culture. The tribes often signed these treaties and made sacrifices as a last option, done with the intent to benefit their people and their descendants but history shows the relationship between the United States government and Indian country has gone through several cycles. Some good, some not so good. Over time we have seen both constructive and destructive language impact Indian country. Some of the worst came during the tenure of President Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act. That Act devastated so many tribes, particularly those driven across this country in what was known as the Trail of Tears. Today we recognize our commitment and our debt to the tribal nations of this country. The Indian Affairs Committee exists because our government’s promise to Indian country. Our mission is to uphold these treaties and ensure tribes not only survive but thrive. Tribal treaties help establish the Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and my committee, the Indian Affairs Committee, will continue to push for better health care delivery in Indian Country, better resource management through the Department of Interior. Our treaty obligations demand nothing less than that. In the Senate, I continue to champion our obligation to the tribes and ensure that their sovereign rights are protected. My committee maintains vigilant oversight over the agencies dedicated to providing services to Indian country. During my tenure as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, we’ve had tough discussions with the Indian Health Service over delivery of health care services to tribes. We are woefully underserving and underfunding our obligations to Indian country. We’ve also pressed for faster resolution to the Cobell Settlement. I believe those final payments are being sent out to tribal members as we speak here today. Moving forward, we will continue to fight for the rights of tribes as we near the end of this session of Congress. We still have a number of big issues on the table and I’m working with Indian country and my colleagues in the Senate to address them. One of the greatest assets of the Indian Affairs Committee is the bipartisan support for Indian country. My colleagues on the committee are committed to ensuring that we honor our treaties, compacts, and other agreements with the tribes. We’re working together to help improve the lives of all Native Americans and that kind of bipartisanship is rare in today’s Congress. I’m honored to be here today to share the opening of this important exhibit and I hope the people who come see it will leave here with a better understanding of the unique relationship that the United States has with the Indian tribes of this country. I hope they understand that the treaties that they see behind this glass remain vital and relevant documents, both for tribal existence today and for the future of Indian country in this great country. Thank you all very, very much. Thank you Senator Tester for your eloquent and honorable remarks.



Burns was first elected as a United States Senator from Montana in 1988, when he defeated Democratic incumbent John Melcher in a close race, 51% to 48%. Burns was re-elected 62.4% to 37.6%, over Jack Mudd in the Republican Revolution year of 1994. In 2000, Burns faced the well-financed Brian Schweitzer whom he beat 50.6% to 47.2%.

In 2000, George W. Bush carried Montana 58% to 33% in the race for President, but Burns won by 3.4%. Since the direct election of Senators began in 1913, Burns is only the second Republican Montana has elected to the U.S. Senate. Also, for thirty-two straight years, 1952 to 1984, Montana elected only Democratic Senators.

Burns' involvement in the Jack Abramoff scandal made him vulnerable[citation needed]. A SurveyUSA poll released in March 2006 found that 38% of Montanans approved of him, while 52% disapproved of him.[1] Polls against leading Democratic candidates had him below his challengers[citation needed].

Democratic primary



On May 31, 2006, Richards, citing the closeness of the race, and his own position (third) in the polls, withdrew from the race, and threw his support to Tester.[2] Morrison started off strong in the race for the Democratic nomination for Senator, collecting $1.05 million as of the start of 2006, including $409,241 in the last three months of 2005.[3] but Morrison’s advantages in fundraising and name identification did not translate into a lead in the polls.[4] Later, the race was called a "deadlock,"[5] but Tester continued to gather momentum.


Democratic primary results[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jon Tester 65,757 60.77
Democratic John Morrison 38,394 35.48
Democratic Paul Richards 1,636 1.51
Democratic Robert Candee 1,471 1.36
Democratic Kenneth Marcure 940 0.87
Total votes 108,198 100.00

Republican primary



Republican primary results[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Conrad Burns (incumbent) 70,434 72.26
Republican Bob Keenan 21,754 22.32
Republican Bob Kelleher 4,082 4.19
Republican Daniel Loyd Neste Huffman 1,203 1.23
Total votes 97,473 100.00

General election



The race was expected to be close, due to Burns' narrow margin of victory in 2000, when he significantly underperformed Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush, and political scandal that he had been involved in. Republican incumbents everywhere were facing more challenging races in 2006 due to the waning popularity of the Republican-controlled Congress and the administration of President George W. Bush. In July 2006, the Rasmussen report viewed Burns as the "second most vulnerable Senator seeking re-election this year", after Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum.[7]

Senator Conrad Burns of Montana faced a strong challenge from Brian Schweitzer in 2000, being re-elected by 3.4% in a state that went for Bush twice by margins of over 20%[citation needed]. This, combined with the increasing strength of the state Democratic party[citation needed] and accusations of ethical issues related to the Jack Abramoff scandal[citation needed], made this a highly competitive race.

On July 27, Burns was forced to apologize after he confronted out of state firefighters who were preparing to leave Montana after helping contain a summer forest fire and directly questioned their competence and skill; Burns was strongly criticized.[8]

On August 31, in a letter faxed to the office of Montana governor Brian Schweitzer, Burns urged the governor, a Democrat, to declare a fire state of emergency and activate the Montana Army National Guard for firefighting. Schweitzer had already declared such a state of emergency on July 11 — thus, activating the Montana Army National Guard. He issued a second declaration on August 11. A Burns spokesman said the senator was "pretty sure" Schweitzer had already issued such a disaster declaration, but just wanted to make sure. "The genesis of the letter was just to make sure that all the bases were covered," Pendleton said. "This is not a political football. It’s just a cover-the-bases letter and certainly casts no aspersions on the governor."[9]



Source Date Jon
Tester (D)
Burns (R)
Jones (L)
Mason Dixon May 2005 26% 50%
Rasmussen September 8, 2005 38% 51%
Mason Dixon December 24, 2005 35% 49%
Rasmussen January 11, 2006 45% 45%
Rasmussen February 13, 2006 46% 46%
Rasmussen March 20, 2006 46% 43%
Rasmussen April 15, 2006 44% 47%
Ayres McHenry & Associates (R) May 2, 2006 48% 42%
Rasmussen May 16, 2006 48% 44%
Mason Dixon May 28, 2006 45% 42%
Lake Research (D) June 20–26, 2006 43% 42%
Rasmussen July 11, 2006 50% 43%
Rasmussen August 10, 2006 47% 47%
Lake Research (D) August 10, 2006 44% 37%
Gallup September 5, 2006 48% 45%
Rasmussen September 13, 2006 52% 43%
Rasmussen September 20, 2006 50% 43%
Mason-Dixon[permanent dead link] October 1, 2006 47% 40% 3%
Reuters/Zogby October 5, 2006 46% 42%
Rasmussen October 11, 2006 49% 42%
Rasmussen October 18, 2006 48% 46%
Montana State University-Billings October 19, 2006 46% 35%
Mason-Dixon/McClatchy-MSNBC October 24, 2006 46% 43%
Harstad Strategic (D) October 25, 2006 48% 42%
Rasmussen October 29, 2006 51% 47%
Reuters/Zogby October 31, 2006 47% 46% 2%
Mason-Dixon/MSNBC-McClatchy November 3, 2006 47% 47% 1%
Rasmussen November 3, 2006 50% 46%
USA Today/Gallup November 4, 2006 50% 41%
OnPoint Polling and Research November 6, 2006 49% 44%


United States Senate election in Montana, 2006[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jon Tester 199,845 49.16% +1.92%
Republican Conrad Burns (incumbent) 196,283 48.29% -2.27%
Libertarian Stan Jones 10,377 2.55%
Majority 3,562 0.88% -2.44%
Turnout 406,505
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

Due to errors with polling machines, the Montana count was delayed well into Wednesday, November 8. The race was too close to call throughout the night and many pundits predicted the need for a recount. After a very close election, on November 9, incumbent Conrad Burns conceded defeat.[11]

Just before 11:00 AM (MST) on November 8, Jon Tester was declared Senator-elect for Montana in USA Today.[12] At 2:27 PM EST on November 8, CNN projected that Jon Tester would win the race.[13]

Under Montana law, if the margin of defeat is more than 0.25% but less than 0.5%, the losing candidate can request a recount if they pay for it themselves.[14] However, this election did not qualify for a recount because the margin was larger than 0.5%. Burns conceded the race on November 9, and congratulated Tester on his victory.[15]

The race was the closest Senate election of 2006 in terms of absolute vote difference[citation needed]; the closest race by percentage difference was the Virginia Senate election[citation needed].


  1. ^ SurveyUSA News Poll #8541
  2. ^ " :: Richards: Tester is best choice". Archived from the original on June 2, 2006. Retrieved June 1, 2006.
  3. ^ :: Burns' fundraising nears $5 million; Morrison's hits $1 million[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Politics Home Page : Roll Call". Archived from the original on August 27, 2006. Retrieved June 7, 2006.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "2006 Statewide Primary Canvass - June 6, 2006 compiled by Secretary Of State Brad Johnson" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 12, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "Rasmussen Reports: The most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a mid-term election". Archived from the original on July 13, 2006. Retrieved July 11, 2006.
  8. ^ "Conrad Burns Issues Apology for Altercation with Firefighters | Missoula | New West Network". Archived from the original on December 26, 2006. Retrieved August 3, 2006.
  9. ^
  10. ^ 2006 Election Statistics
  11. ^ "Sen. Burns Concedes Montana Race". NPR. November 9, 2006. Retrieved April 1, 2018.[dead link]
  12. ^ "Democrat challenger takes Montana". USA Today. November 8, 2006. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  13. ^ "Democrat wins Montana Senate seat, CNN projects". CNN. Archived from the original on November 8, 2006.
  14. ^ "13-16-211. Recounts allowed if bond posted to cover all costs". Archived from the original on November 10, 2007. Retrieved November 9, 2006.
  15. ^ "Montana's Burns concedes Senate race". USA Today. November 9, 2006. Retrieved May 27, 2010.

External links

Official campaign websites (Archived)
This page was last edited on 26 September 2019, at 20:26
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