The appointed senator in state Senate District 17 in Blaine and Hill counties withdrew from the race over the weekend, leaving his Republican opponent with no opposition in the June primary.
“Recently, there (have) been unforeseen personal matters which require my undivided attention, ” Sen. Craig Tilleman, R-Havre, said in a press release dated Sunday. “Even though my father’s (Mike Tilleman, founder of Tilleman Motor Co.) health has been improving, I must put my family first and withdraw from the primary election. ”
That leaves Harlem insurance agent Don Richman as the sole Republican candidate, facing Democrat former state Sen. and Public Service Commission Chair Greg Jergeson of Chinook in the general election.
Craig Tilleman said he has the utmost respect for Richman, and that he is relieved that “there is a person of his knowledge and abilities in this election. ”
In a multiple-county district, state law requires the political committees of the party of a resigned lawmaker to select nominees to send to the joint county commissions from which to select a replacement.
Richman was the top choice of the Blaine and Hill county Republican Central Committees to take the place of Sen. Rowlie Hutton, R-Havre, when he resigned last summer less than one year into his first term. Tilleman was ranked the second choice.
In a 2-4 vote, the combined Hill and Blaine county commissions selected Tilleman over Richman.
Under state law, because the senate district is in two counties, and based on Hutton’s home county and the fact that he was elected with a higher percentage of the votes coming from Hill County, two Hill County commissioners could outvote the other four ballots.
The weighted votes came to 52.08-47.91 Tilleman vs. Richman. Democrats Mike Wendland and Kathy Bessette voted for Tilleman.
Because the seat is held by an appointed replacement, it is again up for election this year. Hutton would have been in office through 2014 had he not resigned effective last July.
In his release, Tilleman said he is greatly disappointed to have to withdraw his candidacy, and that he is humbled by the support he has received from the community and from around the state.
“Representing north-central Montana is one of my proudest endorsements and a responsibility I took very seriously, ” he said, adding that if the opportunity to represent the area in Helena arises again, he would welcome that chance.
Candidate filing ends today
The deadline to file as a candidate in the 2012 election ends today in Montana. With the withdrawal this weekend of candidate Sen. Craig Tilleman, R-Havre, the local legislative races as of this morning were:
Senate District 16 from Chouteau County east through Roosevelt County: Incumbent Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder; Rep. Frank Smith, D-Poplar. No Republican had filed as of this morning.
Senate District 17: Republican Don Richman of Harlem; Democrat Greg Jergeson of Chinook.
House District 28, Liberty and western Chouteau counties: Incumbent Rep. Roy Hollandsworth, R-Brady; no other candidate as of this morning.
House District 29, which includes eastern Chouteau, Judith Basin and western Fergus counties: Incumbent Rep. Ryan Osmundson, R-Buffalo; Democrat Todd Lark of Lewistown.
House District 32, in northeastern Chouteau and southern Hill, Blaine, Phillips and Valley counties: Incumbent Rep. Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder; no other candidate as of this morning.
House District 33, western Hill County: Incumbent Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre; Democrat Brenda Skornogoski.
House District 34, northern Blaine and Hill Counties: Incumbent Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Havre; Democrat Karen Sloan.