With the first day of candidate filings on the books for the 2014 election, one section is conspicuously thin — Democratic filings for legislative seats in Blaine, Chouteau, Hill and Liberty counties.
Thursday was the first day for people to file as candidates, and several people were at the counter early in the Hill County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in Havre to file for election to county offices. Several candidates also filed quickly as candidates for the Legislature, but mostly on the GOP side for this area.
An exception was for the sole local Senate district up for election this year, a massive new district that stretches from the Canadian border in Liberty and Hill counties, including Havre, through Chouteau County and into northwestern Cascade County just outside of Great Falls. Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, and Sen. Greg Jergeson, D-Havre, both filed as candidates in that race for the seat in Senate District 14.
Candidates can file through March 10. The filing for legislative races must be done in the Secretary of State’s office in Helena, although that can be done in person, by mail, by fax or online at http://sos.mt.gov.
Rep. Roy Hollandsworth, R-Brady, filed as a candidate in House District 27, the part of SD 14 that excludes Havre. Stephanie Hess filed as a Republican candidate for House District 28, the Havre district in SD 14.
Rep. Mike Lang, R-Malta, filed as a candidate in House District 33, the western portion of Senate District 17 that stretches from eastern Hill County to the North Dakota border.
The Senate seats in SD 17 and Senate District 16, which runs from Hill County through Roosevelt County and includes part of the Rocky Boy’s, Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Indian reservations, are not up for election this year.
No Democrats, including Rep. Clarena Brockie, D-Harlem, who represents House District 32 in the western part of SD 16 filed Thursday for local house seats. Brockie told the Havre Daily News she does intend to file for re-election.
Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Chinook, who would face Lang in a primary if she ran, also did not file Thursday.
On the county side, several incumbents and one newcomer to running as a candidate filed Thursday in Havre as candidates.
Hill County Commissioner Mike Wendland, Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl, Hill County Auditor Kathy I. Olson, Hill County Clerk of District Court Kathie Vigliotti and Hill County Treasurer and Assessor Sandi Brown all filed for re-election as Democrats.
Hill County Justice of the Peace Audrey Barger filed for re-election in that nonpartisan race.
Deputy Clerk and Recorder Susan Armstrong, the election administrator for the Hill County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, filed as a Democrat in the race for Hill County Clerk and Recorder. Incumbent Democrat Darla Dahl had not filed by the end of the business day Thursday.
Hill County Sheriff and Coroner Don Brostrom, a Democrat, announced Thursday he also would be filing as a candidate for re-election.
On the legislative side, the chairs of both the Republican and Democratic parties of Hill County, Andrew Brekke and Brenda Skornogoski, respectively, said in December they have high hopes for the 2104 election.
Hill and Blaine counties, long Democratic strongholds in Montana, elected several Republican legislators in the last few elections, including an unheard-of GOP sweep of contested elections in 2010 that included re-election of Warburton to her second term and election of Hansen to her first.
In 2012, Warburton and Hansen were re-elected, but Jergeson took back the Senate seat in Hill and Blaine counties, returning to a body from which he termed out in 2002.
After terming out, Jergeson then served two terms in the Public Service Commission, terming out of that body in 2010.
In 2012, he again was eligible under state law to run for the Senate, and ran a successful campaign to return as the most-experienced Freshman senator in that body in the 2013 session.
Hansen has risen through the ranks of the GOP, and was appointed chair of the House Education Committee last session in her second term as a representative.
She said in October that she decided to run for the Senate both to become a better-rounded legislator and to give the opportunity to another Republican to run for the House seat.
Jergeson in a press release Thursday echoed comments he made during his 2012 campaign — he said he believes his experience in the Legislature can help him help the body function better.
“I’m running for the Senate for the same reason I ran last time: to keep the Montana Legislature from sliding into the dysfunction demonstrated by our national Congress,” he said. “Two years ago, I argued that the legislature can do better than the spectacle served up to the people of Montana during the raucous 2011 legislative session. By any measure, the 2013 legislative session was much more productive and cordial than the previous one.”