Incumbent Steve Hinebauch easily carried the District 18 seat in the state senate for Republicans, with 78 percent of the vote to 22 percent for his opponent, Democratic candidate Pat Mischel.
The final tally was 8,610 for Hinebauch and 2,377 for Mischel.
The race was hard-fought, Hinebauch said, but he believes his victory is a tribute to the people in District 18.
“They like freedom,” he told the Sidney Herald. “They don’t like a bunch of people telling them what to do.”
The race was about as contentious as state races, Hinebauch said, and saw quite a bit of campaign cash spent.
“They didn’t always tell the truth,” Hinebauch said. “Just like the rest of them (across the state). They try to figure out how to finagle the real truth. I think people saw through that.”
The Sidney Herald has also reached out to the Mischel campaign for a comment on the race. He did not return the call.
Hinebauch will be entering his second term of office, after which he will be term-limited out.
He said he would continue to hold the line on spending and on what he views as over-regulation.
“We want to make Montana a pro-business state,” he said. “And that is one thing we are going to really work on this time.”
Among the biggest issues he sees ahead for the next biennium will be the state’s budget, which has been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus has crushed demand across numerous business sectors, particularly oil and gas, as well as a wide variety of retail businesses which have also been deeply affected.
“We’re going to try to get rid of some of the regulations that unelected people, these bureaucrats, can put on us like with this COVID deal, you know,” Hinebauch said. “The government seems to think we are too stupid to figure it out, so they gotta tell us what to do.”
Hinebauch said he believes that issue contributed to Gov. Steve Bullock’s loss in the race for U.S. Senator.
“We need to put a cap on the health restrictions from these health people,” he said.
Hinebauch said some of the measures advised were probably good, but he felt, in particular, that closing down schools wasn’t necessary.
“It was a one-size-fits-all, and I don’t think that’s proper for the state of Montana,” he said. “We’ve probably killed more people trying to keep people from getting COVID than we did with just letting it go.”
Hinebauch said there are other, smaller steps that also need to be taken in the legislature, such as steps to help the meatpacking industry expand, so that Montanans can do more to sell the great products produced here.