Nearly a score of candidates are expected to speak at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Day Republican fundraiser Sunday.
Senate candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg and congressional hopeful Steve Daines will be the keynote speakers, and other representatives of the state GOP are slated to speak.
Hill County Republican Party Chair Andrew Brekke said this morning that the Republican Party is focusing on the Havre area in the next election.
“It most certainly is (a targetted area), not just for us, locally, but for the state, as well, ” Brekke said.
He added that the number of people set to speak at the dinner is an indication of that.
“When we have this many people attending it’s a good indication we’re important and on the map again, ” Brekke said.
The attention should help the Republican Party, both in its fundraising efforts, which will help in getting the message out from the candidates about who they are and for what they stand, but also in getting out the vote, he said.
“I think this many people wanting to come to the dinner will be a good draw for the local base, and that’s who we want to energize as much as possible, ” Brekke said.
Along with Rehberg, who is challenging Democratic U. S. Sen. Jon Tester, and Bozeman businessman Daines, who is running for Rehberg’s seat in the U. S. House, seven Republican gubernatorial candidates are scheduled to be at the dinner.
Those confirmed candidates are: former U. S. Rep. Rick Hill, private contractor and security expert Neil Livingstone, former Montana Department of Transportation Director Jim Lynch, former state Sen. Ken Miller, constitutionalist Bob Fanning, Chouteau County Commissioner Jim O’Hara, and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton.
Also expected at the dinner are secretary of state candidates Scott Aspenlieder, a bio-resource engineer, and Brad Johnson, who lost his bid in 2008 for re-election to the office after one term as secretary of state.
State Sen. Jim Shockley, candidate for attorney general, also has accepted an invitation to attend, and Tim Fox, who is making his second bid for that post, may attend depending on scheduling conflicts. Fox lost to Attorney General Steve Bullock in 2008. Bullock is running for governor this election cycle.
Sandy Welch, a self-employed resident of Martin City and candidate for state superintendent of public instruction, and state Rep. Derek Skees, candidate for state auditor, also will speak at the dinner.
State Supreme Court candidate Laurie McKinnon also has accepted an invitation, and Brekke said court candidates Elizabeth Best and Ed Sheehy also may attend.
Local candidates Reps. Wendy Warburton and Kris Hansen, running for re-election to House districts 34 and 33, respectively, and Sen. Craig Tilleman of Havre and his primary opponent, Don Richman of Harlem, also will speak.
Brekke said former gubernatorial candidate and Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann will speak about reapportionment and redistricting as well as judicial districting for Supreme Court candidates.
The evening starts with a social hour at 5 p. m. in which people can speak to candidates, with dinner starting at 6 p. m. in the Student Union Building Ballroom at Montana State University-Northern.
The dinner will include a live auction.
Tickets to the fundraiser cost $45 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.