2000 United States Senate election in Montana

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2000 United States Senate election in Montana

← 1994 November 7, 2000 2006 →
  Conrad Burns official portrait.jpg Brian Schweitzer official photo.jpg
Nominee Conrad Burns Brian Schweitzer
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 208,082 194,430
Percentage 50.6% 47.2%

Montana Senate Election Results by County, 2000.svg
County Results

Burns:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%      80-90%

Schweitzer:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

U.S. senator before election

Conrad Burns

Elected U.S. Senator

Conrad Burns

The 2000 United States Senate election in Montana was held November 7, 2000. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Conrad Burns won re-election to a third term. As of 2020, this is the last time the Republicans have won the Class 1 Senate Seat from Montana as well as the last time Montana voted for the same party for president and senate simultaneously.

Democratic primary[edit]



Democratic Party primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Schweitzer 59,189 66.18
Democratic John Driscoll 30,242 33.82
Total votes 89,431 100.00

Republican primary[edit]



Republican Party primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Conrad Burns (incumbent) 102,125 100.00
Total votes 102,125 100.00

Reform primary[edit]


  • Sam Rankin


Reform Party primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Reform Sam Rankin 1,110 100.00
Total votes 1,110 100.00

Though Sam Rankin won the Reform Party's nomination for the United States Senate, he dropped out of the race over the summer and was replaced by Gary Lee.[2]

General election[edit]



Burns, in a poll released September 21, was leading Schweitzer 48% to 39%[citation needed] that went down from 49% in November 1999[citation needed]. Schweitzer had his polls go up by 11 points.

Burns faced a surprisingly difficult reelection campaign in 2000. In February 1999, he announced that he would break his 1988 promise to only hold office for two terms, claiming "Circumstances have changed, and I have rethought my position."[3] Later that same month, while giving a speech about U.S. dependence on foreign oil to the Montana Equipment Dealers Association, he referred to Arabs as "ragheads". Burns soon apologized, saying he "became too emotionally involved" during the speech.[4]

Burns faced Brian Schweitzer, a rancher from Whitefish, Montana. While Burns attempted to link Schweitzer with presidential candidate Al Gore, whom Schweitzer never met, Schweitzer "effectively portrayed himself as nonpolitical".[5] Schweitzer primarily challenged Burns on the issue of prescription drugs, organizing busloads of senior citizens to take trips to Canada and Mexico for cheaper medicine.[6] Burns charged that Schweitzer favored "Canadian-style government controls"[5] and claimed that senior citizens went to doctors to have "somebody to visit with. There's nothing wrong with them."[6] Burns also faced trouble regarding deaths from asbestos in Libby, Montana. While he initially supported a bill to limit compensation in such cases, he withdrew his support for the bill, under public criticism, and added $11.5 million for the town to an appropriations bill.[5][7]

Burns spent twice as much money as Schweitzer on the election[5] and only defeated him by a slim margin, 51-47 percent, while the state voted 58-33 percent for Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush. Schweitzer went on to become governor in 2004.



General election results[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Conrad Burns (incumbent) 208,082 50.55% -11.82%
Democratic Brian Schweitzer 194,430 47.24% +9.61%
Reform Gary Lee 9,089 2.2%
Majority 13,652 3.32% -21.43%
Turnout 411,601
Republican hold Swing {{{swing}}}

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Official campaign websites (Archived)


  1. ^ a b c "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-28. Retrieved 2014-07-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Reform candidate blasts corporations". Billingsgazette.com. October 13, 2000. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  3. ^ George Will, "...Terms Unlimited", The Washington Post, June 24, 1999
  4. ^ Al Kamen, "Burns's A List: African Americans, Arabs", The Washington Post, March 12, 1999.
  5. ^ a b c d Michael Barone, The Almanac of American Politics 2004, National Journal Group.
  6. ^ a b William Booth, "Mont. Rancher Mounts Brawny Challenge; Crusty GOP Incumbent Finds Race Tightening Against an Equally Rough-Hewn Opponent", The Washington Post, October 31, 2000
  7. ^ Al Kamen, "Town Getting $ 11 Million in Salve From Burns", The Washington Post, May 12, 2000.
  8. ^ "2000 ELECTION STATISTICS". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved August 15, 2012.