Gary Johnson’s 2016 Presidential campaign got an early boost thanks to frequent endorsements from state representatives. By the end of his campaign, the Governor received endorsements from nearly two dozen different state legislators, Congressmen, and even another former Governor. One of the earliest endorsements came from Montana state representative Daniel Zolnikov who announced his support for Gary Johnson back in July. Now, that young state rep is considering running for a higher office; one being vacated by a Trump administration nominee. Representative Zolnikov posted on his Facebook page that he was considering running for Montana’s at-large Congressional seat in the upcoming special election.
The seat being vacated is currently held by former Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke who has been picked by President-Elect Trump to be the Secretary of the Interior. It was an interesting choice, considering that Zinke is only a first term Congressman who hasn’t had the administrative experience typically valued for a Cabinet position. There was also the the rumor that Trump was going to nominate a Democratic Senator from a now-red state in order to force a special election and increase the Republican margin in the Senate.
If the President-Elect doesn’t change his mind, and the Senate votes to confirm Zinke, according to Montana state law a special election must be held within 85 to 100 days. If Zinke is confirmed during a special session on January 20th, which Trump has floated, that could mean a special election taking place as early as mid-April. With that possibility, it’s no wonder Republican state representatives are already thinking about running. Given that Montana is a deep red state the candidate who wins this open seat will likely be able to hold it for some time.
Unfortunately, the Montana special Congressional election won’t feature a primary or a run off. Political party bosses will meet to decide their nominee at a state convention and those nominees will face off on the ballot. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing a candidate can do to curry favor though. If he can make the case that he’s the popular choice before the convention Zolnikov might just have a shot. It’s probably why he shared the poll embedded above in which he’s currently placed fourth.
Libertarians will certainly be standing by to help in whatever way they can. We can always use another limited government advocate in Congress to help out Justin Amash and Thomas Massie. The House Liberty Caucus is always in need of new members. Hopefully Representative Zolnikov will consider that when he decides whether or not to pursue the seat.