Members of the Montana Republican Party have elected a new party chairman to lead them through the 2016 election cycle.

Rep. Jeff Essmann of Billings was chosen for the role on the second day of the Montana GOP convention Saturday in Helena.

Essmann beat out Will Deschamps, who had been the party leader since 2009, along with far-right former Madison County Commissioner Dan Happel.

Essmann will serve two years in the unpaid position. He said he'll be open and honest and pledged to work with every member of a party known for a rift between the conservative and moderate factions.

More than 200 Republicans also are electing a vice chair, secretary and regional representatives for the executive board at their annual convention.