Sen.-elect Greg Jergeson of Chinook may not be a man without a country, but in two years, thanks to redistricting, he’ll be a senator without a Senate district.
“They’ve just made a hash of the whole Hi-Line, from one end to the other,” Jergeson said Friday of the state panel that is redrawing Montana’s legislative districts for 2014-2022.
Jergeson, a Democrat, just won election in Senate District 17, to fill out the last two years of a seat vacated by former state Sen. Rowlie Hutton of Havre, who moved out of state last year. The Hi-Line district includes Havre and most of Hill and Blaine counties.
On his Facebook page, Jergeson said he'd previously served as a state senator for 22 years, from 1975 to 1981 and 1987 to 2003.
Yet the Districting and Apportionment Commission has drawn a new proposed Hi-Line Senate district that does not include Havre, but stretches from near Havre all the way to the North Dakota border, some 260 miles long.
The panel then assigned Republican Sen. John Brenden of Scobey to represent the district when it officially becomes effective in 2015.
That means when Jergeson’s term expires in 2014, he can’t run for re-election in the new district, because Brenden will already be the senator through 2016.
Jergeson said while he’d like to run for re-election, the real problem is the huge size of the district and the fact that it contains multiple communities that don’t have much in common.
“It’s unmanageable,” he said. “From Scobey to Havre, it would end up being a 600-mile round trip. … It is just a district that doesn’t make any damn sense.”
Jergeson lives in Chinook, but also has worked in Havre and said he has “family up the kazoo” in Havre. He said it’s possible he could have a residence in Havre and run for the proposed new Senate district that includes Havre, but that he’s made no decision.
Jergeson said he’ll likely be testifying at a Dec. 19 hearing in Helena before the Districting and Apportionment Commission, on the proposed plan for new districts. The commission must submit a final plan in February.
“It’s too early to start measuring the curtains to take my place or consider me a lame duck,” Jergeson said.