Democrat Karen Sloan, a vocal opponent of the 2011 Montana Legislature's actions, will challenge state Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Havre, in the fall elections.
Sloan, who recently retired after 48 years as a nurse, told attendees of a Hill County Democratic potluck dinner Tuesday night it was her lifelong goal to be a legislator.
"I'm going to run against Wendy ...," the crowd broke into cheers before she could complete the sentence.
"I think we're on a roll," she said. "I want your support, and I need your help," she said.
The 34th District, in which they will compete, includes parts of Havre and northern Hill and Blaine counties.
County Democratic Chairman John Musgrove said the party would fully support Sloan's candidacy.
"Clap your hands if you are going to help her," Musgrove asked the crowd, which responded by breaking into applause.
Warburton has not filed for re-election, but is expected to run for a third term.
Warburton is a strong opponent of legalized abortion and gay rights, a fervent backer of Second Amendment rights and favors reductions in state spending. Her support for measures such as the creation of a Home Guard made her a favorite of conservative members of the tea party-dominated House, but made her a lightning rod for criticism from Democrats.
At weekly closed-circuit television conferences with constituents, Sloan and Warburton frequently clashed over pending legislation.
The Sloan race, the presidential contest, and races for Congress, U.S. Senate and other statewide offices will make this election vital, Musgrove said.
"This will be the most important campaign season we will see in our lifetime in Montana," Musgrove said.
Some other candidates in the June 5 primary spoke to the party faithful:
• Elizabeth Best of Great Falls, who is seeking a seat on the Montana Supreme Court, spoke of her experience over the years. She represented soldiers facing charges in Germany, and represented plaintiffs in civil rights and employment bias cases in Montana.
She urged people to vote against a ballot initiative on the primary ballot that calls for election of Supreme Court justices by district. Judges currently are elected statewide.
Under the new plan, she said, voters will have the opportunity to vote for only one member of the court, instead of all seven.
Some people who took part in the 1972 Montana constitutional convention are suing, contending that the initiative violates the constitution.
• Mark Peterson, the only declared candidate for Hill County commissioner, cited his experience in a variety of state commissions and civil groups.
He was full of praise for outgoing Commissioner Kathy Bessette, who is retiring after 22 years. He recalled running against Bessette two decades ago, but said he would never be running today had she decided to run for re-election.