Polson Republican John Brueggeman resigned his Montana Senate seat on Monday, just 35 days before the 2011 session is set to begin.
Brueggeman, 31, is considered a moderate Republican and has served in the Legislature since he was first elected to the House in 2000.
Brueggeman, who serves Senate District 6, said it has become too difficult to balance a new career while serving his constituents in Flathead and Lake Counties. Brueggeman took a job as a regional sales manager for 3M earlier this year and he said he travels about 95 percent of the time.
” After 10 years in the Legislature, though I love public policy and public service more than anything, I decided it was time to focus on my career,” Brueggeman said. “That’s a challenge that all young legislators face.”
Brueggeman said he tried to manage his professional career in a way that would still allow him to serve in the Legislature, but as the 2011 session approached, it became clear that wouldn’t be possible.
“Every fire I put out, a couple more sprang up. It got increasingly difficult to manage a constituency and a very demanding job,” he said.
Senate President Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, issued the following statement about Brueggeman’s resignation:
“All of us in the Senate appreciate his service to Montana for the past nine years. The kind of career opportunity that Senator Brueggeman had doesn’t come along every day, especially in this economy. I understand his decision. We will miss his dedicated work, but all of us in the Senate wish him well in his future.”
Brueggeman developed a reputation in recent sessions as a moderate Republicans in the Senate, sometimes voting with Democrats on key bills.
Recently Brueggeman made headlines when he said he planned to introduce a measure that would strike language from the Montana code that prohibits homosexuality. That move came after the Montana Republican Party adopted a platform that supports legislation “to keep homosexual acts illegal.”
Brueggeman acknowledged that the bill gave some of his fellow Republicans heartburn, but he said his resignation had nothing to do with the proposed measure.
“I had a lot of people ask me not to move forward with the bill, but there were also a lot of people—a lot of good friends I respect in the party—who came forward and said, ‘Hey John, we really appreciate you taking a stand on this,'” Brueggeman said. “In politics, I may be a little bit ahead of my time for the party.”
Brueggeman said he’s going to miss debating that and other bills on the Senate floor.
“It would have been enjoyable to have that debate on the Senate Floor. Hopefully somebody will still bring the issue forward,” Brueggeman said.
Now that Brueggeman has resigned, it’s up to the county commissioners in Flathead and Lake Counties to appoint his replacement from a list of candidates provided by the local Republican central committees.