Republicans pushing for Montana legislative supermajority
BILLINGS (KPAX) - The cold weather didn't stop the last-minute campaigning for Tuesday's election in Montana.
Both House District 51 candidates hit the pavement in Billings Monday hoping to convince last-minute voters.
Democrat Carol Boerner and Republican Mike Yakawich went out Monday knocking on the doors of voters in their district.
“Just a chance to meet them, learning about a real important one is neighborhood safety,” Yakawich said.
“Getting to know voters and having them get to know me a little bit, hearing their concerns,” said Boerner.
The outcome of this race could have a major impact that extends far beyond this District 51 Billings neighborhood, which includes parts of south and central Billings extending west to Shiloh Road.
If Republicans gain two seats in the Montana Senate and maintain the majority of 67 seats in the House of Representatives race, they’ll hold a supermajority.
The GOP currently has a 31-19 majority in the Senate.
“If we lose those two seats and if the other side gets the supermajority, I fear that the constitution is going away and with it is going away our right to privacy, our voting rights. Our hunting and fishing rights are already being decimated,” Boerner said.
With a supermajority of votes, Republicans could theoretically approve changes to the state's 50-year-old constitution.
Democrats have expressed fears that this could open the door for major changes in state law, including rollbacks to privacy rights that have provided a backdrop to allow abortion in the state.
While Democrats fear the consequences of a supermajority, Republicans argue the Democratic party only has itself to blame.
Democrats left 36 legislative seats uncontested in this year’s midterm election.
“We were going to focus on pivotal races, on races where we could at least have a chance at winning,” said Robyn Driscoll, a former Yellowstone County commissioner and Democratic party chair.
These candidates are well aware of what’s on the line, which is why they know these conversations matter.
“No matter what happens locally here, city council or on the state level, I just want to encourage people to vote,” Yakawich said.
And they're both encouraging those to get out and vote in this election.
“That is our voice, that is what we, that’s how we have a say in how things are going to be,” said Boerner.