The U.S. Senate confirmed Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary, triggering a special statewide election in Montana to replace him.  Zinke will be sworn in March 1st, becoming the first Montanan to serve in a presidential Cabinet-level position.  Approved by the Senate by a 63 to 31 vote, the Whitefish native will be the nation’s 52nd Interior secretary.

 

Montana’s Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Sen. Steve Daines voted to confirm Zinke.  Montana’s one and only seat in the House of Representatives will be filled by special election, raising financial questions for a state already overburdened by the cost of last year’s elections.  When Libertarian congressional candidate Mike Fellows died before the November election, the cost of replacing the printed ballots was prohibitive.  A mail-in congressional race has been suggested, but is opposed by Montana’s Republican Party Chairman.