Pat Williams (Montana politician)

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Pat Williams
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's At-large district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1997
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Rick Hill
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Max Baucus
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Member of the Montana House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born John Patrick Williams
(1937-10-30) October 30, 1937 (age 79)
Helena, Montana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Carol Williams
Alma mater University of Montana, Missoula
William Jewell College
University of Denver

John Patrick Williams (born October 30, 1937) is a former Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Montana during the years 1979 to 1997.

Williams attended the University of Montana in Missoula, William Jewell College and the University of Denver, Colorado, earning a B.A. In 1961–1969 he was a member of the National Guard in Colorado and Montana and was a teacher in Butte, Montana. His cousin was Robert "Evel" Knieval (1938-2007), legendary American daredevil and showman.

Political career[edit]

In 1966 Williams was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in District 23 of Silver Bow County, winning reelection in 1968. During the years 1969–1971 he served as the executive assistant to Montana Representative John Melcher. Williams was a member of the Governor's Employment and Training Council from 1972 to 1978 and served on the Montana Reapportionment Commission from 1972 to 1973.

In 1974 Williams ran an unsuccessful primary election campaign against now Senator Max Baucus for the Democratic Party nomination for Montana's U.S. House 1st District Representative. Baucus would win the November elections defeating Republican Dick Shoup. In 1978 Williams ran a successful primary campaign against Dorothy Bradley to win the Democratic nomination for the 1st District of Montana. In November Williams defeated Republican Jim Waltermire in one of Montana's largest door-to-door campaigns, and winning 57% percent of the vote, getting elected to the 96th U.S. Congress.


In 1980 Williams won reelection against Jack McDonald with 61% of the vote; in 1982 against Bob Davies with 60%; in 1984 against Gary Carlson with 67%; in 1986 against Don Allen with 62%, 1988 against Jim Fenlason with 61%; in 1990 against Brad Johnson. In 1992 Montana lost its second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, leaving Williams to campaign against fellow incumbent Ron Marlenee.

Williams narrowly won with 51% of the vote. In 1994 he was elected to his ninth and final term, defeating Cy Jamison with 49% of Montana's votes. He chose not to run for reelection in 1996; Republican Rick Hill defeated Bill Yellowtail to become Montana's new U.S. Representative that year.

Recent history[edit]

After leaving congress in 1997 Williams returned to Montana and has become a part of several projects and organizations, mostly in Missoula, Montana, where he is currently an instructor at the University of Montana.

Williams is Senior Fellow and Regional Policy associate at the Center for the Rocky Mountain West and he serves on the Boards of Directors for the National Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges,[1] the National Association of Job Corps, and The President's Advisory Commission for Tribal Colleges.

Williams was on the board of directors of the Student Loan Marketing Association, the now disbanded GSE subsidiary of U.S.A. Education (Sallie Mae). Williams also writes newspaper columns on occasion.[2]

Williams' wife Carol was elected to a seat in the Montana House of Representatives in 1999 and later to a seat in the Montana State Senate. She currently serves as Minority Leader in that body.[citation needed]

Nominated for a seat on the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education in 2012 by then-governor Brian Schweitzer, Williams has recently endured opposition to his pending confirmation. It arose due to publication of an out-of-context statement made to a New York Times reporter regarding a half dozen players on the University of Montana football team who recently ran afoul of the law. He referred just to those six as "thugs," but his statement was taken as referring to the entire team and program.[3] The cause for confusion was due to Williams' continued attempts to clarify his statements. He was first quoted by ESPN saying, "Montana recruits thugs". His clarification to a half dozen players did not come until his confirmation hearing. By that point the damage had been done. His confirmation to the Board of Regents was blasted to the Senate floor and the Republican-majority Senate rejected his appointment.

Williams is a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[4]


  1. ^ "AGB". Retrieved 2017-05-17. 
  2. ^ "Montana's not so ‘red' after all". Retrieved 2017-05-17. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Charles. Brouhaha over regent's confirmation hits Senate, Billings Gazette; accessed March 21, 2013.
  4. ^ "Rep. Pat Williams joins the ReFormers Caucus". Issue One. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Max Baucus
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 1st congressional district

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's At-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Rick Hill