Franke Wilmer

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Franke Wilmer
Member of the Montana House of Representatives
from the 64th district
Assumed office
January 2007
Preceded by Larry Jent
Personal details
Born (1950-12-02) December 2, 1950 (age 64)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Shepherd University
University of Maryland, College Park
Religion Judaism

Franke Wilmer (born December 2, 1950) is a Democratic Party member of the Montana House of Representatives, representing District 64 since 2007. Before first running for office in 2006, Wilmer was appointed to chair the Montana Human Rights Commission by Governor Schweitzer in 2005.[1] She received both a PhD and Masters from the University of Maryland in 1990 and is currently a full professor of Political Science at Montana State University.[2]

Early life, education, and academic career[edit]

Wilmer was born in 1950 in Washington, D.C. to Marion and Bud Wilmer. Her father was a bricklayer and her mother was a nurse. In the 1980s, she was a single mother raising her one daughter, while working various jobs and earning three college degrees. Her jobs during this decade include waitress, carpenter, middle school substitute teacher, assistant professor, and research assistant. She graduated with a B.S. in political science and economics from Shepherd University in 1981. She got a Masters Degree in political science, specializing in international relations, from the University of Maryland in 1985 and a PhD in 1990.

After earning her degrees, she became an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg for a year. In 1991, she was then hired by Montana State University and still teaches there today. That same year, she founded the Gallatin Human Rights Task Force.[3] She became an Associate Professor in 1996 and the Head of the Political Science Department in 2001.[4]

Early political career[edit]

She has written three books, numerous articles, and been invited to be guest lecturer across the world. She conducted field research in Yugoslavia during the war and Dayton Peace Accords. She is a member of the Montana Education Association, Montana Federation of Teachers, and the AFL-CIO.

In 2005, Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer appointed her to become Chairwoman of the Montana Human Rights Commission, where she served for one year.[5]

Montana House of Representatives[edit]


In 2006, incumbent Democrat State Representative Larry Jent, of Montana's 64th House District, decided to retire to run for a seat in the Montana House of Representatives. Wilmer decided to run and won the June Democratic primary with 72% of the vote.[6] In the general election, she defeated Jim Klug 57%-43%.[7] She won re-election in 2008 with 59% of the vote[8] and 2010 with 55% of the vote.[9]


She was elected to as Speaker Pro Tempore of the legislature in 2009. The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation-Montana Council selected her as "Legislator of the Year" in 2011. She is currently the Legislative Liaison to the Board of investments.

Committee assignments[edit]

  • House Education Committee
  • House Legislative Administration Committee
  • House State Administration Committee[10]
  • House Capital Financial Advisory Committee (2008)
  • House Veteran Affairs Committee

2012 congressional election[edit]

In February 2011, Wilmer was the first candidate from either party to announce her candidacy[11] for Montana's At-large congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.[12] Wilmer was endorsed by the National Women's Political Caucus[13][not in citation given][dubious ] She finished second in the Democratic primary, with 14,836 votes (18.4%).

Personal life[edit]

Wilmer has lived in the city of Bozeman, Montana since 1991. She has one daughter.


  • The Indigenous Voice in World Politics (Sage 1993)
  • The Social Construction of Man, the State and War: Identity, Conflict and Violence in Former Yugoslavia (Routledge 2002)


External links[edit]