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Montana politician changes parties


Apr 9, 2006
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Abandon ship!

HELENA, Mont. - A Montana state senator has officially changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, breaking a tie to give his new party a 26-24 advantage.

State Sen. Sam Kitzenberg filed the paperwork at the secretary of state's office on Friday.

He said he had been thinking about switching parties for about 12 years and made the decision at the suggestion of Democratic state Sen. Mike Cooney, who contacted him after the Nov. 7 election put both parties on an even footing.

"He called and said 'Guess what? It's tied. I know you've mentioned changing parties in the past, and now is the time,'" Kitzenberg said.

Democrats have a 50-49 edge in the Montana House. One Democrat, Sheila Hogan, lost by just 24 votes and party officials said this past week that she will ask for a recount; if she were to win, the Democrats' lead would change to 51-48.

Kitzenberg dismissed Republican critics who suggested the change was "political payoff" for a state Revenue Department job he got from the administration of Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

"The job I have now had nothing to do with this decision," Kitzenberg said. "I sat down and tried to figure out what was really important to me. It just came down to me realizing who my real friends were and where my heart was."


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