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Montana 2021 Legislature

After Failed Run For Montana Auditor, Morigeau Appointed To State Senate

Shane Morigeau is the 2020 Democratic candidate for state auditor.
Shane Morigeau is the 2020 Democratic candidate for state auditor.

Missoula County Commissioners appointed former state auditor candidate and Montana House Representative Shane Morigeau to a state senate position Tuesday.

Democrat Shane Morigeau, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was appointed to be state senator of District 48 in an unanimous vote by Missoula County Commissioners in a public meeting Tuesday.

Morigeau replaces state Democratic Sen. Nate McConnell, who resigned Nov. 9 after issuing a statement saying his children were his first priority during this time.

Morigeau, who served two terms as representative of House District 95, says he was chosen because of his previous experience in the legislature and the relationships he’s built there. He says he’s ready to apply his past experience to this new role.

"I'm excited about it. I'm ready to get to work. And I'm excited to put all that hyper-partisanship aside and start working on behalf of Montanans again to promote economic growth and create jobs in Montana," he said.

Morigeau ran for the statewide position of state auditor and lost his race earlier this month.

"You know, it was disappointing to lose in that particular race, you know, I worked my butt off. But for me, my work doesn't stop with that particular race. You know, this is an opportunity to continue a lot of the great work I've done to protect Montanans."

Morigeau pointed to the nine successful bills he sponsored in his two terms, including the Montana Promise Act, which gave financial grants to low-income students, and a law to make it easier for victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring criminal charges against their abusers.

Morigeau’s appointment also means Montana’s American Indian Caucus will be one member larger. Morigeau joins ten others in the caucus and is one of two Natives representing urban areas.

Morigeau says it’s important for Native Americans to be seen and have a voice.

"I've said this so many times over the years that oftentimes a lot of people forget that, you know, Natives are Montanans too. The point is, is that that representation matters because we have a major Native population in Montana that's spread out all across the state."

Morigeau says he’s coming into the session with a priority to protect the work he’s already supported, such as Medicaid expansion, and developing career opportunities in Montana.

"So for me, it's holding the line on a lot of the things we really worked hard on to protect people in Montana and to get people quality education and jobs."

Kaitlyn Nicholas is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report For America tribal affairs reporter.