2004 Montana gubernatorial election

← 2000 November 2, 2004 2008 →
Nominee Brian Schweitzer Bob Brown
Party Democratic Republican
Running mate John Bohlinger Dave Lewis
Popular vote 225,016 205,313
Percentage 50.4% 46.0%

County results
Schweitzer:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Brown:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Governor before election

Judy Martz

Elected Governor

Brian Schweitzer

The 2004 Montana gubernatorial election took place on November 2, 2004 for the post of Governor of Montana. Democrat Brian Schweitzer defeated Montana Secretary of State and Republican nominee Bob Brown with 50.4% of the vote against 46%. Schweitzer formed a ticket with a Republican running mate, choosing state legislator John Bohlinger for the lieutenant governorship.

Democratic primary


Brian Schweitzer, a rancher from Whitefish, began campaigning for the Democratic nomination over a year before the primary.[1] He had narrowly lost the Senate race to Conrad Burns in 2000. In February 2004 he announced that liberal Republican State Senator John Bohlinger would be his running mate for the post of lieutenant governor. This would be the first bipartisan gubernatorial team since the Montana Constitution was amended in 1972 to require governors and lieutenant governors to run as a team.[2]

In March 2004, John Vincent, a former Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives, entered the race and criticized Schweitzer for taking both sides on some issues.[1] In the end Schweitzer easily won the Democratic primary. Three days after the primary Schweitzer addressed the Montana Democratic Convention; he gave a bear hug to his defeated rival and said he would bring a new kind of leadership to Montana.[3]

Democratic primary results[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Schweitzer 68,738 72.51
Democratic John Vincent 26,057 27.49
Total votes 94,795 100.00

Republican primary


Incumbent Governor Judy Martz had a difficult term of office with her approval ratings as governor going as low as 20%. In August 2003 she announced she would not run for re-election as she wanted to spend more time with her family.[5][6] Lieutenant Governor Karl Ohs was expected to enter the Republican primary race but decided not to.[5]

Montana Secretary of State Bob Brown, conservative businessman Pat Davison and former State Senators Ken Miller and Tom Keating competed for the nomination. Brown was seen as the favorite in the primary but was attacked by Pat Davison for being "liberal on taxes". Brown was the only one of the candidates who refused to sign a pledge not to raise taxes as he said he wanted to keep all options open as governor.[7]

Primary results by county:  Brown .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Brown—51-60%   Brown—41-50%   Brown—31-40%    Davison   Davison—51-60%   Davison—21-30%    Miller   Miller—41-50%   Miller—31-40%    Keating   Keating—21-30%
Primary results by county:
  •   Brown—51-60%
  •   Brown—41-50%
  •   Brown—31-40%
  •   Davison—51-60%
  •   Davison—21-30%
  •   Miller—41-50%
  •   Miller—31-40%
  •   Keating—21-30%
Republican primary results[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bob Brown 43,145 39.15
Republican Pat Davison 25,319 22.98
Republican Ken Miller 24,313 22.06
Republican Tom Keating 17,421 15.81
Total votes 110,198 100.00

General election


Democratic candidate Brian Schweitzer
Democratic candidate Brian Schweitzer

In mid summer polls showed Schweitzer had a 10-point lead over Brown,[8] but by October the gap had closed to only 4 percent.[9]

Schweitzer campaigned with plans to lift Montana from its position at the bottom of all 50 states in wages. He called for new uses to be found for crops like mint and for small businesses to pool in purchasing health care.[10] He also supported opening the border with Canada to allow consumers to get cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.[11]

Brown said that the Democrats harmed business growth and job creation.[12] He touted his government experience including 26 years in the Montana legislature and accused Schweitzer of taking hypocritical stands.[13]

Schweitzer won the election to become the first Democrat in 20 years to win an election for governor.[13] According to the exit polls Schweitzer obtained two-thirds of the vote from over 65s and from independent voters.[14] This was despite President George W. Bush winning Montana very easily over John Kerry.


Source Ranking As of
Sabato's Crystal Ball[15] Lean D (flip) November 1, 2004

Statewide results

2004 Montana gubernatorial election[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Brian Schweitzer 225,016 50.44% +3.35%
Republican Bob Brown 205,313 46.02% -4.97%
Green Bob Kelleher 8,393 1.88% N/A
Libertarian Stanley Jones 7,424 1.66% -0.27%
Total votes 446,146 100.00% +11.2%
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ a b "Vincent adds zing to gubernatorial primary". Great Falls Tribune. May 3, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  2. ^ "Schweitzer to share ticket with Republican". Great Falls Tribune. February 12, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  3. ^ "Schweitzer electrifies Democrats". Great Falls Tribune. June 13, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 12, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b "Montana election results 2004". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2008.
  6. ^ "More governors join exodus from statehouses". USA Today. August 13, 2003. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  7. ^ "Race quickly is turning into two-candidate spat". Great Falls Tribune. May 18, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  8. ^ "Racing for the Governor's Mansions". National Review. September 14, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  9. ^ "Purple People Watch". The American Prospect. October 8, 2004. Archived from the original on August 10, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  10. ^ Egan, Timothy (November 14, 2004). "Montana Democrats Reflect on Success". The New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  11. ^ "The Rockies". The Washington Post. November 4, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Schweitzer wins Montana governorship". CNN. November 3, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  13. ^ a b "Schweitzer secures Montana governor's chair". USA Today. November 3, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  14. ^ "Bush makes most of Montana; Schweitzer cruises". USA Today. November 1, 2004. Archived from the original on April 8, 2005. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  15. ^ "The Final Predictions". Sabato's Crystal Ball. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  16. ^ http://sos.mt.gov/Elections/archives/2000s/2004/2004-GenState.pdf[dead link]

See also