In a nail-biter to nearly the very end, Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, defeated retired college instructor Brenda Skornogoski, a Democrat, to win her second term in the Montana House of Representatives.
Hansen supporters jumped up and down in elation when it became obvious that she would win a second term. She and other Republicans had gathered at the GOP headquarters. Returns came in slower than usual, and the first few precincts reporting gave Skorogoski a lead.
In the first precinct from House District 33 counted, Precinct 13 in Highland Park in Havre, Skornogoski took a slim lead with 126 votes to Hansen’s 117. In the next returns in the district she extended her lead by three more, with 193 votes to Hansen’s 190.
But as the night progressed, with generally slim leads in precincts changing the lead back and forth in the race, who would win the district was anyone’s guess.
By the end of the night, Skornogoski had taken four precincts to Hansen’s six. Hansen took a strong lead after winning Precinct 15, just west of Havre, 314 to 177.
As the next precincts came in, Hansen’s lead solidified. She took Precinct 21, including Hingham, 94-51, Precinct 20, including Kremlin and Gildford, 186 to 95, and Precinct 22, including Rudyard, 172 to 97.
Hansen ended the election with a strong victory, earning 1,965 votes to Skornogoski’s 1,646, and 54.42 percent of the vote to Skornogoski’s 45.58 percent.
Still, that was less than her nearly 2-1 victory two years ago, when Republicans swept into control of the Legislature.