Ryan Zinke

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Ryan Zinke
Ryan Zinke official congressional photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's At-large district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded by Steve Daines
Member of the Montana Senate
from the 2nd district
In office
January 2009 – January 2011
Preceded by Dan Weinberg
Succeeded by Dee Brown
Personal details
Born (1961-11-01) November 1, 1961 (age 54)
Bozeman, Montana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lolita Hand
Children Wolfgang
Alma mater University of Oregon
National University
University of San Diego
Religion Lutheranism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy SeAL United States Navy
Years of service 1985–2008
Rank US-O5 insignia.svg Commander
Unit Naval Special Warfare Development Group.jpg
Awards Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal

Ryan Zinke (born November 1, 1961) is an American politician serving in his first term U.S. Representative for Montana's at-large congressional district. A Republican, he previously served as a member of the Montana Senate, representing Senate District 2 from 2009 to 2011.[1]

Zinke was a football player at University of Oregon where he studied geology. He also has an MBA and MS. He was a Navy Seal from 1986 until 2008. Zinke is married with three children.


Zinke attended the University of Oregon, where he was an All Pac-10 lineman for the Oregon Ducks. A student-athlete, Zinke earned a B.S. in geology. Zinke also earned an MBA from National University and an MS from the University of San Diego.[2]

Military career[edit]

Zinke served as a U.S. Navy SEAL from 1986 to 2008, retiring at the rank of Commander.[3] Zinke graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training class 136 in February 1986 and subsequently served with SEAL TEAM ONE from 1986 to 1988. His next assignment was as a First Phase Officer of BUD/S before serving with United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG) from 1991 to 1993. Zinke then served as a Plans officer for Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR) and served a second tour with NSWDG as team leader and operations officer from 1996 to 1999. From 1999 to 2001, Zinke served as executive officer (XO) for the Naval Special Warfare Unit Two. His next assignment was as executive officer, Naval Special Warfare Center from 2001 to 2004.

In 2004, Zinke was named the deputy and acting commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force–Arabian Peninsula. In this capacity, Zinke led a force of more than 3,500 Special Operations personnel in Iraq. Zinke was awarded two Bronze Stars for meritorious service in a combat zone,[4] four Meritorious Service Medals,[4] two Joint Service Commendation Medals, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals,[5] and an Army Commendation Medal.[5] Following his tours in Iraq, Zinke was selected to establish the Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command, where he served as “Dean” of the Naval Special Warfare graduate school until his retirement from active duty in 2008.

Political career[edit]

Zinke was elected to the Montana Senate in 2008, serving from 2009 to 2011, representing Whitefish, Montana.

He was the running mate of Montana gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone in the 2012 election.[6] The Livingstone/Zinke ticket finished fifth out of seven in the Republican primary with 12,038 votes (8.8% of the vote).

In July 2016 Zinke withdrew as a delegate to the Republican nominating convention in protest of a plank in the party's draft platform which would require that "certain" public lands be transferred to state control. Zinke said that he endorses "better management of federal land", not transfer.[7]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


In the spring of 2014, Zinke announced that he was running for Montana's at-large congressional district, a seat that became vacant when its then-incumbent Republican Steve Daines resigned in his successful U.S. Senate bid to replace outgoing Democratic U.S. Senator Max Baucus.[8] Zinke won the five-way Republican primary with 43,766 votes (33.25%) and faced Libertarian Mike Fellows and Democrat John Lewis, a former State Director for Senator Baucus, in the general election. He campaigned on a message of North American energy independence, a stronger economy, and a robust national defense and border security. He won the general election with 56% of the vote out of over 200,000 votes cast in the statewide district.[9]

2014 Election for U.S. Representative of Montana's At-Large Congressional District
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ryan Zinke 203,871 55.41
Democratic John Lewis 148,690 40.41
Libertarian Mike Fellows 15,402 4.19


Zinke ran unopposed in the Republican primary and will face Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau in the general election.[10]

Committee assignments[edit]


Zinke is married to Lolita (née Hand).[11] They have three children.


  1. ^ Montana Legislature. "RYAN ZINKE (R)". Archived from the original on April 1, 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Congress.org. "Sen. Ryan Zinke (R-MT 2nd District)". Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Charles (August 9, 2014). "Zinke releases some Navy records on SEAL career; Dems seek more". Billings Gazette. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Zinke releases some Navy records on SEAL career; Dems seek more". Montana Standard. August 10, 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Carter, Troy (September 10, 2014). "Review of Zinke’s Navy record comes out clean". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Johnson, Charles S. (July 10, 2011). "Livingstone taps Zinke as running mate". Billings Gazette. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Lutey, Tom (July 15, 2016). "Zinke resigns delegate post over public lands disagreement; still will speak at RNC". billingsgazette.com. Billings Gazette. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Ryan Zinke Announces Statewide Bus Tour". 30 April 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Montana Election Results". New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  10. ^ Dennison, Mike. "Zinke and Juneau raising big bucks for U.S. House battle". KXLF. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  11. ^ GOPAC. "Candidate Spotlight:Ryan Zinke". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Steve Daines
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's At-large congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Lee Zeldin
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Dan Donovan