In a hotly contested legislative race, Havre minister Rowlie Hutton defeated outgoing Speaker of the State House Rep. Bob Bergren, D-Havre, in the race for Senate District 17.
Hutton won with 60.2 percent of the vote in the district, which includes parts of Hill and Blaine counties. The final count was 3,502-2315.
Bergren could not run for re-election to the House due to term limits. He faced Hutton in the district represented by Sen. Ken “Kim” Hansen, D-Harlem, who also could not run for re-election due to term limits.
During his victory speech at the Republican headquarters on 1st Street in Havre Tuesday, Hutton thanked his supporters and said it is time to move forward.
“I keep telling people, the things you see here in Havre is what you’re going to get in Helena,” he said. “We’ve got the big mo going, the momentum. Let’s keep it going.”
Bergren said during an interview Tuesday night at the Democratic meeting in the Havre Eagles Club, after the final results came in, that the election could lead to a major change in how things happen in Helena. He said it will change how things were done his eight years in the Legislature.
“It’s been real sad to see the ideologues taking over,” Bergren said. “(Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Havre,) said she votes what she believes, not as a representative.”
Warburton also won her race, defeating Democrat Dana Sapp Seidel of Havre 1,803-1,077.
“I congratulate my opponents,” Bergren added. “It’s going to be pretty interesting.”
Bergren, a former Havre firefighter, only carried two precincts in the senate district, both in Hill County. He narrowly won in Hill County’s Precinct 2, the courthouse-library region, 185-182. Bergren had a slightly stronger showing in Precinct 10, the Lincoln-McKinley region in central and eastern Havre, with a 194-177 count.
Hutton, the minister of Fifth Avenue Christian Church who grew up on his family’s farm in northeastern Blaine County, dominated the other precincts. While handily winning the other Hill County precincts, his dominance showed most strongly in Blaine County, with a 166-14 vote win in Precinct 1, 198-129 in Precinct 8, 347-192 in Precinct 11, and 57-17 in Precinct 13.