Steve Daines

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Steve Daines
Steve Daines 116th official photo.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
United States Senator
from Montana
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with Jon Tester
Preceded byJohn Walsh
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's at-large district
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byDenny Rehberg
Succeeded byRyan Zinke
Personal details
Steven David Daines

(1962-08-20) August 20, 1962 (age 58)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Cindy Daines
RelativesJay Owenhouse (brother-in-law)[1]
EducationMontana State University (BS)
WebsiteSenate website

Steven David Daines (born August 20, 1962) is an American businessman and politician serving as the junior United States Senator for Montana since 2015. A Republican, he served as the U.S. Representative for Montana's at-large congressional district from 2013 to 2015. In 2014, Daines won an open seat in the U.S. Senate. He previously worked for Procter & Gamble and RightNow Technologies. Daines is currently running for reelection in 2020, against Governor of Montana Steve Bullock.

Early life and education[edit]

Daines was born in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles,[2] to Sharon R. and Clair W. Daines. The family moved to Montana in 1964. He was raised in Bozeman, where he attended school from kindergarten through college.[3]

Daines graduated from Bozeman High School, where he served as student body president.[4] He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Montana State University. While at Montana State, he became a brother of Sigma Nu.[5]

Early political involvement[edit]

In his senior year, he was one of the youngest delegates at the 1984 Republican National Convention. "I was a big fan of Ronald Reagan. He was the first president I got to vote for."[6] Daines was also the president of MSU College Republicans. In 2007, he and his wife started a web site called, which urged governor Brian Schweitzer to return the state's $1 billion surplus to the taxpayers. From 2007 to 2008, he served as Montana state chairman for Republican Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign and as a national surrogate for Huckabee.[7]

Business career[edit]

Daines spent 13 years with Procter & Gamble.[8] After seven years managing operations in the United States, he moved his family to Hong Kong and China for six years opening factories to expand Procter & Gamble's Asian business.[8] During Daine's 2014 Senate campaign, Democratic opponents alleged that Daines had outsourced U.S. jobs to China. Daines responded to this charge by saying that he created hundreds of jobs in Montana when he worked for RightNow Technologies.[9]

In 1997, Daines left Procter & Gamble to join the family construction business in Bozeman. Three years later, Daines met Greg Gianforte, founder of RightNow Technologies, and was put in charge of running RightNow's customer care division.[4] Daines went on to become vice president of North America Sales and vice president of the Asia-Pacific division. During his tenure, the cloud-based software company became a publicly traded company and Bozeman's largest commercial employer. Daines remained with the company until March 2012, when he left to campaign for Congress full-time.[4]

2008 gubernatorial election[edit]

Daines campaigned for Lieutenant Governor of Montana in 2008, running on the ticket with Roy Brown, the Republican nominee for governor. They challenged incumbent Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer and his running mate John Bohlinger. Brown and Daines lost the election 65%–33%, winning only 7 of Montana's 56 counties.[10][11][12]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 election[edit]

On November 13, 2010, Daines announced he would run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jon Tester in 2012.[13]

When U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg announced his intention to challenge Tester, Daines dropped out of the Senate race and announced his candidacy for the open House seat vacated by Rehberg.[14] Daines won the 3-candidate Republican primary with 71% of the vote.[15][16] In the general election, he defeated Democratic state senator Kim Gillan, 53%–43%. He won 48 of the state's 56 counties.[17][18]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Western Caucus
  • Congressional Rural Caucus
  • Republican Study Committee
  • NW Energy Caucus
  • Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus

U.S. Senate[edit]

Daines' freshman portrait (114th Congress)

2014 election[edit]

In July 2013, Daines attended a NRSC fundraiser in Washington and raised speculation that he would run for Max Baucus' soon to be vacant U.S. Senate seat.[19] In the second quarter of 2013, Daines disclosed raising $415,000 in campaign funds, fueling more speculation of a Senate bid.[20] On November 6, 2013, Daines announced his candidacy.[21]

In February 2014, Baucus resigned from the Senate to accept a post as U.S. ambassador to China. Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, appointed lieutenant governor John Walsh to the vacant Senate seat for the remainder of Baucus's term. Walsh had already declared his intention of running for the Senate in the 2014 election, and it was suggested that his appointment by Bullock might give him the advantage of incumbency, thus improving Democratic chances of holding the seat.[22][23][24]

Daines won the Republican primary on June 3, 2014, obtaining 83.4% of the vote to defeat Missoula state representative Champ Edmunds and political newcomer Susan Cundiff.[25][26] Walsh won the Democratic primary with 64% of the vote.[27]

In August 2014, Walsh withdrew from the race following the publication of a New York Times article that accused him of plagiarism in a paper written as part of his master's degree work at the U.S. Army War College. With only 50 days left before the general election, a special convention called by the Montana Democratic party named one-term Butte legislator Amanda Curtis to run in place of Walsh.[28][29][30]

Daines won the general election, securing 57.8% of the vote to Curtis's 40.1%.[31]

Committee assignments[edit]


Political positions[edit]


Daines opposes legalized abortion except to protect the life of the mother.[32]

Budget and taxes[edit]

Daines introduced his first bill, the Balanced Budget Accountability Act in February 2013. Daines' bill would have required Congress to pass a budget that would balance in ten years or have their pay terminated.[33] Daines supported the No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013, which required both chambers of Congress to pass a budget by April 15, 2013, or the salaries of members of that chamber would be put in an escrow account.[34]

Daines has opposed an internet sales tax, which would allow states to collect taxes on online sales. He has called legislation to provide the authority as "a job-killing tax hike that hurts American small businesses."[35]

D.C. statehood[edit]

In June 2020, Daines argued against statehood for the District of Columbia stating that most Americans oppose D.C. statehood and suggesting that members of Congress "get out of this city, go out to where the real people are at across our country and ask them what they think."[36] Critics objected to Daines's implication that D.C., a city of more than 705,000 residents, nearly half of whom are Black, are not "real people". Further pressed, Daines explained that people outside of the D.C. "bubble" oppose statehood, while those in D.C. are in favor of statehood.[36][37]

Donald Trump[edit]

According to the Helena Independent Record, Daines had by 2020 "aggressively tied himself to Trump, both backing and defending the president over the last three years."[38]

In the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown, when Congress would not meet Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds for a U.S.–Mexico border wall, Daines voted for a bill that put $5.7 billion towards the border wall and he voted against a bill that would have funded the government without putting resources towards a wall.[39]

Daines voted to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial of Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to his request of Ukraine to announce an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden.[40] Daines said Trump had not committed any crimes, that Democrats had "not done their complete homework", and that it was the most partisan impeachment trial in history.[41] Daines said that the purpose of the impeachment was to "[overturn] the election of 2016 and [try] to define the election of 2020."[41] During the impeachment trial, Daines voted to block the Senate from subpoenaing documents from the White House and compelling witnesses to testify.[38][42]

Daines praised President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying in May 2020, "I think he's done a good job, I do. The president prepared for the worst, and thankfully we're starting to see declines in infection rates and now it's time to start safely opening up the economy."[43] Daines praised Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying in August 2020 that he "led boldly,"[44] and in September 2020 that his "leadership saved a lot of American lives."[45]

In June 2020, amid protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death, Daines defended President Trump's decision to disperse protestors with a chemical irritant so that he could stage a photo op in front of St. John's Church. Daines said he was "grateful for the president's leadership."[46][47][48]


Daines has proposed abolishing the United States Department of Education and in 2019 co-authored the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act, to allow state and local governments to withdraw from federal education requirements.[49]

Energy and environment[edit]

Daines rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. In 2019, he said, "to suggest that [climate change] human-caused is not a sound scientific conclusion."[50]

Daines criticized President Barack Obama for the Obama administration's positions on natural resource development, calling the President's June 2013 climate change proposal a "job killer" and a "war on American energy."[51][52] Daines co-sponsored the Northern Route Approval Act which would allow for congressional approval of the Keystone pipeline.[53] Daines expressed strong support of Montana's coal industry[54] and oil production in eastern Montana and the Bakken formation.[55]

On June 5, 2013, Daines introduced the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013 which would withdraw 430,000 acres of federal lands in Montana from programs to develop geothermal and mineral resources.[56][57] The law would forbid mountaintop removal mining and other natural resource development.[57] The affected lands lie adjacent to Glacier National Park and already have some protections.[56] Daines emphasized his desire "to rise above partisan politics, preserve the pristine landscape, and 'protect this critical watershed'" when he announced that he would be introducing the bill.[57] According to Daines, both conservationists and energy companies support the bill.[57] The bill, also supported by Tester and Walsh, passed in the House; but Senate Republicans prevented it from being voted on, killing it in the Senate.[58][59]

Daines has also called for the need for litigation reforms to allow more logging in Montana's forests.[60][61] In April 2016, Daines signed on to the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, legislation to address the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools program by renewing the federal government's commitment to manage forest resources.[62]

In July 2019, Daines co-founded the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, a group of Republican members of Congress meant to focus on environmental issues with specific priorities including reducing water and ocean plastic pollution, and heightening access to public lands and waters in the United States for outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing.[63]

Foreign policy[edit]

In August 2017, Daines co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment,[64] for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[65]

In January 2019, Daines was one of eleven Republican senators to vote to advance legislation intended to block President Trump's intent to lift sanctions against three Russian companies.[66]

In June 2019, Daines was one of eight senators to sign a letter to Premier of British Columbia John Horgan expressing concern over "the lack of oversight of Canadian mining projects near multiple transboundary rivers that originate in B.C. and flow into" U.S. states Alaska, Idaho, Washington, and Montana. The senators requested British Columbia replicate American efforts to protect watersheds.[67]

In January 2020, Daines expressed support for the US military's assassination of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani by drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport.[68]

Gun policy[edit]

Daines opposes gun control legislation. He has signaled opposition to proposals for expanded background checks and red flag laws, saying he doesn't believe such legislation would successfully reduce gun violence.[69]

Health care[edit]

In 2017, he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[70][71]


Daines opposes allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients – undocumented minors brought into the United States – to apply for temporary protection to stay in the United States.[72]

Daines supported President Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.[73]

Internet and technology[edit]

Daines opposes net neutrality and praised its 2017 repeal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).[74] In May 2018, Daines voted against legislation that would have overturned the FCC's ruling and restored net neutrality.[75]

In May 2020, Daines co-sponsored an amendment with Ron Wyden (D–Oregon) that would have required federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to obtain federal court warrants when collecting web search engine data from American citizens, nationals, or residents under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[76][77]


In May 2018, Daines announced his support for the so-called nuclear option "to speed up consideration of President Trump's judicial nominees." Daines has argued that changing the Senate's rules to a simple majority vote would "ensure a quicker pace on Trump's court picks."[78]

In September 2020, after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Daines supported moving forward with President Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the court prior to the upcoming presidential election. Daines tweeted that he wanted to "protect our Montana way of life". In March 2016, after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Daines said President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court should not be considered by the Senate, as the "American people have already begun voting on who the next president will be," and that Americans should "have their voices heard" on this issue via the presidential election.[79]

LGBTQ rights[edit]

Daines opposes same-sex marriage and said he was "disappointed" in the Supreme Court's decision establishing a constitutional right to marry.[80]

Personal life[edit]

Daines and his wife have four children. Daines enjoys mountain-climbing and has scaled Granite Peak and Grand Teton.[4]

In 2009, his sister, Susan Marie Owenhouse, died of primary sclerosing cholangitis. Owenhouse's husband was magician Jay Owenhouse.[1]

On October 4, 2018, Daines publicly announced he would be walking his daughter down the aisle during her wedding on Saturday, October 6, 2018. This was the same day the US Senate was scheduled to vote on the confirmation of Federal Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to be the Supreme Court of the United States Associate Justice to replace the retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Ultimately, Daines did not vote as the Republicans secured the necessary votes to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. However, fellow Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte offered his private plane to Daines in the event he needed to fly to Washington D.C.[81] Kavanaugh was confirmed 50–48.[82]

Electoral history[edit]

Montana Governor/Lieutenant Governor Republican primary election, 2008
Party Candidates Votes % +%
Republican Roy Brown/Steve Daines 65,883 80.81%
Republican Larry Steele/Harold Luce 15,643 19.19%
Montana Governor/Lieutenant Governor election, 2008
Party Candidates Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schweitzer/John Bohlinger 318,670 65.47%
Republican Roy Brown/Steve Daines 158,268 32.52%
Libertarian Stan Jones/Michael Baker 9,796 2.01%
Montana's at-large congressional district Republican primary election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 82,843 71.25%
Republican Eric Brosten 21,012 18.07%
Republican Vincent Melkus 12,420 10.68%
Montana's at-large congressional district election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 255,468 53.25%
Democratic Kim Gillan 204,939 42.72%
Libertarian David Kaiser 19,333 4.03%
U.S. Senate Republican primary election in Montana, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 110,565 83.37%
Republican Susan Cundiff 11,909 8.98%
Republican Champ Edmunds 10,151 7.65%
U.S. Senate election in Montana, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 213,709 57.79%
Democratic Amanda Curtis 148,184 40.07%
Libertarian Roger Roots 7,933 2.15%


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External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Denny Rehberg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Ryan Zinke
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dave Lewis
Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Montana
Succeeded by
Jon Sonju
Preceded by
Robert Kelleher
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Montana
(Class 2)

2014, 2020
Most recent
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
John Walsh
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Montana
Served alongside: Jon Tester
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Tom Cotton
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Mike Rounds