Ryan Zinke is a fifth generation Montanan who has dedicated his life to serving our great nation and state. Ryan is a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL officer who retired after 23 years of military service. After the military, Ryan served two terms as a State Senator, was twice elected as Montana’s Congressman, and served two years as U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Now after a couple quiet years spent with his family, he is signing up again to serve in Congress to help save America from threats we face both foreign and domestic.
Ryan is a Constitutional conservative who believes in the vision our forefathers laid out which protects individual liberties, separates powers between the three branches of government and ensures the rights of our states. His decisions are based on upholding the Constitution and doing what is right for Montana and America. Ryan believes and lives the truth of American Exceptionalism and recognizes the unique role that the United States of America plays in global prosperity and security.
In Congress, Ryan will once again be a champion of the issues most important to Montana:
- Low taxes and a strong economy
- Securing our nations’ border
- Conservation and public access to public lands
- Keeping our promise to our veterans
- Protecting our Second Amendment & individual liberties
- Peace through strength
- American energy independence
- Limited Federal government intervention
- Sovereignty of Montana’s great Tribal Nations
Ryan knows that the problem is not that there’s too much Montana in D.C.; the problem is that there’s too much D.C. in Montana.
Ryan’s distinguished military career began in 1985 when he graduated from Officer Candidate School and attended BUDS/SEAL training (class 136). He was first assigned to SEAL Team ONE then was later selected to SEAL Team SIX where he was a Team Leader, Ground Force Commander, Task Force Commander and Current Operations Officer in support of National Command Authority missions.
In Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, Ryan was assigned as Deputy and Acting Commander, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula where he led a force of over 3,500 Special Operations personnel in Iraq. In 2006 he was awarded two Bronze Stars for his service.
Throughout his career, Ryan also served as the Special Operations Officer in Europe, and served as the SEAL Commander of Joint Task Force TWO in support of Special Operations missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo. Ryan’s final Naval assignment was establishing the Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command where he served as “Dean” of the Naval Special Warfare graduate school with a staff of over 250 educators, which provided over 43 college level courses to over 2500 students annually at 15 different locations worldwide. He retired from active duty 2008 after serving 23 years.
State Senate & Congress
In 2008, Ryan was elected to the Montana State Senate, where he chaired the Senate Education Committee and served on the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. As a State Senator he was a leading advocate for strong family values, restoring individual and economic freedoms, energy independence, and helping veterans receive proper care. He was a proud recipient of numerous awards from the Montana Chamber of Commerce and the Rural School Association.
Following his service in the State Senate, Ryan was twice elected as Montana’s sole member of the US House of Representatives. He served on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees.
As a leading member of the Natural Resources Committee, Ryan continually challenged the Obama Administration on their policies that locked Montanans out of public lands and decision making and introduced legislation to strengthen public access, conservation and multiple use of public lands. He authored the Resilient Federal Forests Act and was constant advocate of active forest management. Ryan Zinke was a lone yet loud voice on the Republican side advocating for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and against the sale or transfer of public lands.
Secretary of the Interior
In December 2016, Congressman Zinke was nominated by President Donald J. Trump and later confirmed by a bipartisan vote in the Senate. Ryan Zinke was the first Montanan to serve in a Presidential Cabinet.
As Secretary, Ryan championed restoring the voice of state, tribal and local communities in land and wildlife management decisions, was the principle architect behind the two provisions that became the backbone of the Great American Outdoors Act, and increased public access to millions of acres of public lands for recreation and hunting and fishing. He established wildlife migration corridors which leveraged state and private partnerships and ushered in a new era of forest management and endangered species recovery.
As Secretary, Ryan also protected the Paradise Valley from foreign mining, launched the opioids task force to stop lethal drugs from making their way to Indian Country, and surged law enforcement resources to BLM lands on the southwest border.
Ryan was credited as the driving force behind the United States achieving American energy independence and becoming a net-exporter of energy for the first time in more than 60 years. Former Interior Secretary Don Hodel noted that “Zinke was able to get done what President Reagan and I talked about but were never able to accomplish.”
After 31 years, Ryan decided to leave public service and President Trump reluctantly accepted his resignation in January 2019.
Ryan is a fifth-generation Montanan with deep family roots in Bozeman, Glasgow, Glendive, Whitefish, and Richey and is proudly an adopted member of the Assiniboine Sioux Tribe based in Northeast Montana. Ryan was born in Bozeman and raised in Whitefish on the same property his family has lived for four generations and where he and his wife and oldest son still live today.
In high school, Ryan served as class president and was a multiple sport, All-State standout athlete who earned a place in the Whitefish High School Football Hall of Fame. Growing the talent God gave him in athletics and academics, Ryan earned a scholarship to the University of Oregon. He lettered all four years and graduated with a B.S. in Geology. Ryan received numerous awards to include All-Pacific TEN honors, the Pacific TEN Medal, the University Sahlstrom Award, and the prestigious Emerald Cup for academic, athletic, and leadership excellence. He also holds a Masters in Business Finance from National University and a Masters in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego.
Ryan is married to the former Lolita Hand. They have three children: two sons, Wolfgang and Konrad, a daughter Jennifer, and a happy little dog, Ragnar. Ryan and Lola are the proud grandparents to two granddaughters.