Results From The June 4 Primaries

Written By: Olivia Meade, Caleb Cook, and Jarrett Sullivan

While a U.S. Senate race with the potential to determine the Senate majority was the focal point of Montana’s primary election, voters also had the opportunity to select nominees for governor and lieutenant governor as well as attorney general and state legislative offices.   



Incumbent Governor Greg Gianforte (R) is running for another term alongside Lt. Governor Kristen Juras (R). He faced one challenge from the right by Representative Tanner Smith (R), but easily defeated Smith after finishing the day with 76% of the votes.  

Governor Gianforte spent 34 years in the private sector prior to running for governor in 2020, where he earned more votes than any candidate for governor in Montana history. He has focused his re-election campaign on his accomplishments from his first term, including cutting income taxes, creating new voting requirements, and appointing new district court judges. Looking towards the future, Gianforte is pledging to grow the state’s economy and limit government regulations.  

On the Democratic side, former Republican Ryan Busse (D) was the frontrunner going into Tuesday. He will advance to the November election after defeating Helena attorney Jim Hunt (D) with 70% of the vote.  

Busse has focused his campaign on a number of issues, including funding for public education, reliable infrastructure, access to public lands, and rebuilding state agencies and departments. He has referred to himself as a moderate Democrat, emphasizing his time spent as a top executive for a major firearms company.  

The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have rated this race as solid Republican.  

Attorney General 

Incumbent Austin Knudsen (R) is seeking another term as Big Sky Country’s top lawyer.  

Attorney General Knudsen’s political career began in 2010 when he was elected to the state house. He was later elected as Speaker of the House in 2015 and 2017. Following his fourth and final term in the house, Knudsen returned to his hometown and served as County Attorney before winning the election for attorney general in 2020. His campaign centers on tough-on-crime policies, stemming the flow of illicit contraband into the state, pushback against federal policies that he views as an overreach, protecting the Second Amendment, and ensuring private property rights. 

Knudsen easily defeated his lone primary opponent with 82% of the vote. Facing no Democratic competition, Ben Alke breezed through the Democratic primary and will face Knudsen in November.  

Ben Alke is campaigning on enhanced consumer protections and an independent judicial system. His campaign largely focuses on what Alke sees as Knudsen’s inappropriate political use of the attorney general’s office. Other campaign focuses are stopping the influx of illicit contraband into the state and combatting human trafficking. Alke has never served in an elected office and has a background as a private attorney.  


Legislative Primaries


All 100 seats in the Montana State House of Representatives, and 25 of 50 senate seats, are up for re-election this year. Forty-four (44) House candidates and 15 Senate candidates were selected by voters in Tuesday’s primary, while the remaining contenders ran unopposed. Thirty-three (33) incumbents in the House did not file for re-election, including Speaker Matt Regier (R), Speaker Pro Tempore Rhonda Knudsen (R), Majority Leader Sue Vinton (R), and Minority Leader Kim Abbott (D). Seventeen (17) Senate incumbents did not file for re-election, including 2023 Majority Leader Steve Fitzpatrick (R). Republicans are expected to maintain their majorities in both legislative chambers going into the 2025 legislative session.  


Voters in Iowa also held a primary for state legislative offices. All 100 seats in the House and 25 of 50 seats in the Senate will be on November’s ballot. Seventeen (17) House candidates and four Senate candidates faced primary competition. Thirteen (13) incumbents in the House and three in the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Pam Jochum (D), did not file for re-election this year. Republicans are slated to maintain control of the legislature. 

New Mexico 

All 70 seats in the New Mexico State House and all 52 seats in the Senate are up for re-election this year. Twenty-three (23) House candidates and nineteen (19) Senate candidates faced primary challengers. Eight incumbents in the House and eleven (11) in the Senate did not file for re-election, including House Majority Leader Gail Chasey (D) and Senate Minority Leader Gregory Baca (R). Democrats are expected to maintain control of both chambers following the general election.  

South Dakota 

All 70 seats in the South Dakota House of Representatives, and all 35 seats in the Senate, are up for re-election. Twenty-two (22) incumbents in the House and fourteen (14) in the Senate did not file for reelection, several of whom were term-limited. These include House Speaker Hugh Bartels (R), House Minority Leader Oren Lesmeister (D), Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (R), and Senate Minority Leader Reynold Nesib (D). Forty-five (45) total seats faced primary competition, and at least 14 Republican incumbents lost their primaries Tuesday.