HELENA — Commissioners from Lewis and Clark and Powell counties selected state Rep. Becky Beard, R-Elliston, to succeed Sen. Terry Gauthier, R-Helena, for Senate District 40. She was chosen over Businessman Conrad Evarts and Former Senate District 42 Candidate Matt Olson who had been endorsed by Gauthier.
“I’m extremely honored,” said Beard.
Gauthier resigned his seat in November due to conflicting plans that would not allow him to be present for much of the upcoming session. Beard, Evarts and Olson were nominated by the Central Republican Committees for Powell and Lewis and Clark Counties on Dec. 2 to fill the open seat.
The joint board of county commissioners interviewed the three candidates Monday and picked Beard after a two-hour interview process. Lewis and Clark County Commission Chair Jim McCormick said Beard received five out of the six commissioners' votes. The voting process was also weighted based on population representation in the district, meaning the Lewis and Clark County commissioners' votes accounted for around 90% of the vote total.
Beard said she was honored and noted it was a bittersweet moment. She is excited to meet the constituents of her expanded district and serve in the Montana Senate, but she will miss her colleagues in the House and chairing House Taxation.
“I have a lot of people to coordinate some of our efforts going forward, because I’m not abandoning my old post. I’m just assuming a new one and it’s for the greater good. It's for Senate District 40 which includes House District 80,” said Beard.
Even though Beard will be a Freshman senator, she is not an unknown voice at the Capitol having served in the House since 2017.
“I have great working relationships with so many of them and I look forward to working with them,” said Beard. “I won’t be a babe in the woods. Some may think I’m a sheep in a wolf environment but I’ll show them quick enough.”
With Beard's appointment to Senate District 40, Powell and Lewis and Clark County Commissioners will need to go through the appointment process all over again to fill Beard’s vacant seat once she submits her letter of resignation to the Secretary of State.
From there the counties’ Central Republican Committeees will again provide a list of three potential candidates for the joint board of county commissioners to select from.
County commissioners told MTN Monday the hope is that they’ll be able to appoint Beard’s replacement ahead of the next legislative session which starts January 2. However, that all depends on when they hear from the Secretary of State and the Republican Central Committees.