In a stunning turn of events in solidly Democratic Hill and Blaine counties, Republicans swept local — and many state — legislative races, with incumbent Rep. Wendy Warburton leading the charge in this area.
Warburton, a one-term legislator running a high-profile race to retain her seat in House District 34 in Hill and Blaine counties, defeated local nurse and private business owner Dana Sapp Seidel with 1,803 votes to Seidel’s 1,077. The incumbent won with 62.6 percent of the votes cast.
Warburton — along with fellow Republicans Kris Hansen and Rowlie Hutton — was elected in a region with decades of strong Democratic support, where having one Republican legislator from Hill or Blaine counties was a rarity. The region had boasted legendary Democratic legislators and leaders, such as long-time Democratic activist and state and county party Chair Jim Pasma, Blaine County’s Francis Bardanouve, who was a state representative for some 40 years and chaired the appropriations committee, and Havre’s former Rep, Ray Peck.
Warburton, who said during her campaign that she would continue to work on her original platform including reducing unfair taxes, fighting for gun ownership rights and fighting abortion, thanked the people who helped her campaign during her party’s gathering at Republican headquarters on 1st Street in Havre Tuesday night.
“All these people worked hard for our shared values,” Warburton said. “I feel good that we kept it positive and issues based.”
Seidel said this morning she is glad she entered the race, despite her loss at the polls.
“I became involved to try and make a difference for my family, friends and neighbors. I had hoped that the voters would elect people that would be willing to meet in the middle to get things done and represent the majority of their constituents,” she said. “I kept my campaign simple, clean and respectful and I have no regrets.
“The great people I met, and their support, made this process a blessing,” Seidel added. “I will return to being a mom, grandma and advocate for the people in my life.”
Warburton, who grew up on a ranch in Blaine County, carried all precincts in in her home county and four of the five precincts in Hill County.
The only precinct Seidel carried was Precinct 10 in Hill County, a region in the central and eastern part of Havre. Seidel won that district 204-167.
Warburton handily won all other precincts, including returns of 255-157 and 258-148 in precincts in the south-central part of Havre and commanding wins in the Blaine County precincts.
In Hill County, the total votes went 1,006 to 739 for Warburton. In Blaine County, she won with a more-than 2-1 margin, 797-338.