Montana's Ryan Zinke will be sworn in late Wednesday afternoon as President Donald Trump's choice to be U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Zinke's Congressional office released his letter of resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday morning. Read the text of Zinke resignation below:

"Today it is with a heavy but optimistic heart that I resign from my position as the Congressman for Montana. I'm resigning not because I do not wish to serve Montana, but rather it is to accept the role of Secretary of the Department of the Interior and serve Montana at a higher level.

"First, I want to say thank you to the people of Montana. It has been an honor to serve you in Congress, and I appreciate the faith and trust you put in me to represent your values, interests, and priorities. It was my privilege to sit at your kitchen tables and in your schools to talk about problems we face and the solutions to tackle those issues. Perhaps no issues were more important to me personally than looking out for our troops, respecting sovereignty of the Tribes, and maintaining access to our public lands.

"As your Congressman, I always looked to you for guidance and it was with your resounding support that I actively fought to keep our public lands public. I consistently bucked party leadership and voiced my opinions loud and clear in the House Committee on Natural Resources, and I voted at every turn to oppose the sale and transfer of our public lands. I assure you that I will continue fighting for our public lands as I serve Montana and the American people in the Department of the Interior.

"Soon I will take my fourth oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I am humbled that President Trump has given me the opportunity to continue my service to our great nation. However, I also promise that I will not be a stranger to Montana. I will always remember my roots. And I hope to continue hearing from Montanans.

"Thank you again for your faith in me and God bless."

A special election to choose Zinke's replacement will be held on May 25. Montana Governor Steve Bullock made the announcement from the State Capitol on Wednesday, immediately following Zinke's confirmation. Democrats will hold their nominating convention this Sunday, and Republicans will announce their plans at a later date.

So far, a crowded field includes Democrats Amanda Curtis, Rob Quist, Kelly McCarthy, John Meier, John Weida, Link Neimark, along with Gary Stein and Dan West.

Republicans who have paid the $1,750 filing fee include Greg Gianforte, Ken Miller, Drew Turiano, Dean Rehbein, Carl Glimm, Ed Buttrey and Ed Walker.

The nominee from each party will face each other in what may be a mail-in only election, which some Republicans complain would give Democrats an advantage.

The winner would finish out Zinke’s term and have the chance to run in the next election in 2018.





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