1988 Montana gubernatorial election

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Montana gubernatorial election, 1988

← 1984 November 8, 1988 1992 →
Nominee Stan Stephens Thomas Lee Judge
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate Allen Kolstad Barbara B. Skelton
Popular vote 190,604 169,313
Percentage 51.93% 46.13%

MT-Gov 1988.svg
County results

Governor before election

Ted Schwinden

Elected Governor

Stan Stephens

The 1988 Montana gubernatorial election took place on November 8, 1988. Incumbent Governor of Montana Ted Schwinden, who was first elected in 1980 and was re-elected in 1984, declined to seek re-election to a third term, creating an open seat. Stan Stephens, the former President of the Montana Senate, won a close Republican primary, and advanced to the general election, where he was opposed by Thomas Lee Judge, Schwinden's predecessor as governor and the Democratic nominee. Though the general election was hotly contested, Stephens ultimately defeated Judge, becoming the first Republican to win a gubernatorial election in Montana since 1964.[1]

Democratic primary[edit]



Democratic Party primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Thomas Lee Judge 46,412 39.31
Democratic Frank B. Morrison, Jr. 32,124 27.21
Democratic Mike Greely 26,827 22.72
Democratic Ted Neuman 7,297 6.18
Democratic Martin J. "Red" Beckman 3,360 2.85
Democratic Curly Thornton 2,038 1.73
Total votes 118,058 100.00

Republican primary[edit]



Jim Waltermire, the Montana Secretary of State, was widely perceived to be the frontrunner in the primary, but, two months before the election, he was killed in a plane crash. Following his death, the race was narrowed down to Stan Stephens and Carl Winslow, though Waltermire remained on the ballot. Stephens earned the endorsement of much of the Republican establishment in the state, and campaigned on his experience in elected office and his success in the private sector. Winslow, meanwhile, campaigned on his youth and his ability to attract new businesses to the state.[3]


Republican Primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Stan Stephens 44,022 50.07
Republican Carl Winslow 37,875 43.08
Republican Jim Waltermire 6,024 6.85
Total votes 87,921 100.00

General election[edit]


Montana gubernatorial election, 1988[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Stan Stephens 190,604 51.93% +25.53%
Democratic Thomas Lee Judge 169,313 46.13% -24.21%
Libertarian William Dee Morris 7,104 1.94% -1.32%
Majority 21,291 5.80% -38.14%
Turnout 367,021
Republican gain from Democratic Swing


  1. ^ Berke, Richard L. (November 9, 1988). "The 1988 Elections; Indiana Elects Bayh's Son Governor; Moore Is Ousted by West Virginians". The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Report of the Official Canvass of the Vote Cast at the Primary Election Held in the State of Montana, June 7, 1988" (PDF). Montana Secretary of State. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-28. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  3. ^ "8 Candidates Vie in Montana Race". The New York Times. May 29, 1988. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  4. ^ "Report of the Official Canvass of the Vote Cast at the General Election Held in the State of Montana, November 8, 1988". Montana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 5, 2014.