A brief history of Montana's only seat in the US House of Representatives

Posted at 3:25 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 20:32:20-05

HELENA — Montanans have one voice in the United States House of Representatives, but it hasn’t always been that way. It is just one of the many quirks of this at-large seat.

Montana's sole House district is the most populous, with just over a million people, and is the second-largest geographically, behind Alaska.

It started as an at-large seat with statehood in 1889, and a second seat was added in 1913.

A few years after getting that second seat, Montana helped break a glass ceiling, electing Jeanette Rankin as the first woman to Congress in 1916 - several years before women won the right to vote in 1920.

Rankin, who was elected to a second term in 1940, remains the only woman to serve in the U.S. House for Montana.

Over the years the seat would serve as a stepping stone to the U.S. Senate for many state leaders, including Mike Mansfield, Lee Metcalf, Max Baucus, and Steve Daines.

Daines served as the U.S. Representative for Montana from 2013 to 2015

In 1993, Montana lost its second seat and returned to one at-large district.

Democrat Pat Williams held the seat until retiring in 1997. The seat has been held by Republicans since.

As 2020 draws to a close, Montanans again are looking at the possibility of second U.S. House seat. However, that outcome hinges on the results of the US Census.