Dee Brown, a well-known Republican conservative, has thrown her hat in the ring for the Montana Senate District 2 race next year. The incumbent senator, Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, is running for lieutenant governor. The senate district includes Columbia Falls and Whitefish.
A Columbia Falls High School graduate, Brown has a bachelor's in elementary education from the University of Montana-Missoula and a master's in guidance and counseling from Montana State University-Northern.
Brown started her 26-year long teaching career in Columbia Falls before transferring to Canyon Elementary School in Hungry Horse. She retired in 1998.
An outdoor enthusiast, Brown and her husband Steve now operate Canyon RV in Coram. Married for 40 years, they have two grown children and three grandchildren.
Brown is the current president of the Columbia Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and a past president of the Montana Tourism Coalition. She was recently picked as this year's Columbia Falls Lion's Club Citizen of the Year.
She has been a member of the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce, North Valley Hospital Foundation Board, Travel Industry Association of Montana, Glacier Country, the Gateway2Glacier business group, National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Flathead Snowmobile Association.
Brown served four terms in the Montana House of Representatives. She began her political career by defeating John Polotto, D-Hungry Horse, in 2000 and 2002 in the race for the former House District 83.
At that time, HD83 included Columbia Falls and surrounding rural areas and was part of Senate District 42, which also included House District 84, the LaSalle and Evergreen areas. Following redistricting, Brown ran for House District 3, which along with House District 4, urban Whitefish, make up Senate District 2.
In 2004, Brown defeated Linda Jaquette, D-Columbia Falls, in the HD3 race. She then lost to Doug Cordier, D-Columbia Falls, in 2006. The next year, Brown unsuccessfully ran against Martin City businessman Chris Byrd for a seat on the Flathead Electric Cooperative board of trustees.
Cordier chose not to run again for HD3 in 2008, and Brown went on to defeat Michael Holm, D-Columbia Falls, 2,633-1,970. With four two-year terms in the Montana House, Brown was term-limited out in 2010.
One other well-known Republican conservative, Bill Beck, has also declared for the SD2 race next year. Beck actually doesn't live in SD2 and has served three terms as representative for House District 6. According to state law, Beck can run in any legislative district in Flathead County so long as the district doesn't cross county lines.
"Bill and I will have a very civil primary since we both agreed that it is in everyone's best interest," Brown told the Hungry Horse News. "Just look at the kooks in Washington, D.C. Both of our voting records are easily called up on the Internet, so people can judge for themselves."