Montana will elect a new governor in 2004 after one-term GOP Gov. Judy Martz bowed out after one bruising term.
Republican moderate Secretary of State Bob Brown will face Democrat Brian Schweitzer, a Whitefish farmer-rancher, in November.
Brown won a tight primary race against Pat Davison, an anti-tax conservative. The race was close with Brown refusing to rule out tax increases and newcomer Davison building strong support among conservatives with his anti-tax platform.
Schweitzer, who has never held public office, made his political mark in 2000 when he mounted a strong challenge to Republican incumbent Conrad Burns in the U.S. Senate. He was the first candidate for governor to begin campaigning in early 2003, with an eye toward becoming the state's first Democratic governor since 1988.Brown has spent 26 years as a legislator.
The outgoing governor's term had been marked by missteps and dismal popularity among voter. Martz said she wanted to spend more time with her family and insisted that her sagging popularity was not a factor in her decision. Some polls have shown her approval rating at about 20 percent.
Lt. Gov. Karl Ohs was expected to be a gubernatorial candidate in the GOP Primary but he opted not to run, citing personal and business reasons.
In the 2002 elections, four-term Democratic incumbent Senator Max Baucus easily defeated Republican challenger Mike Taylor. On his loss to the better-financed Baucus, Taylor said: "Money counts. If you don't have enough money to go against an incumbent, you shouldn't be in the race."
In the House, Republican Denny Rehberg won a second term as the state's lone congressman.
Voters did not want government in the electricity business: A measure that would have let the state buy and operate a dozen privately owned power dams took a beating.