Dan Bartel, a Republican lawmaker from Lewistown, has been appointed to the vacant seat left by former state Sen. Ryan Osmundson, the governor's new budget director.
Bartel said in an interview Wednesday he was sworn into his new role representing Senate District 15 by a municipal judge in Lewistown on Nov. 8. About three-quarters of the commissioners for the seven counties that overlap with the central-Montana district voted for him, Bartel said. When legislative vacancies occur, the county committees of the political party that held the seat nominate possible successors, and county commissioners are tasked with deciding the replacement.
Bartel said he plans to run to retain the Senate seat in 2022. His former district, House District 29, makes up half of Senate District 15. That vacancy will be filled by an appointee chosen by the commissioners in Fergus and Petroleum counties.
Senate District 15 became vacant when Osmundson, R-Buffalo, was tapped to be Gov. Greg Gianforte's new budget director. Kurt Alme resigned from that post in September.
In taking over the open Senate seat, Bartel must to resign from his interim committee appointments, which included chairmanships of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Infrastructure Advisory Commission and the Interim Budget Committee on General Government.
In its meeting on Wednesday, the ARPA commission unanimously voted for House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, R-Billings, to succeed Bartel as chair.