By Tim Leeds 

Shuffling of Republican candidates in races continues

Rosendale announcement as U.S. House candidate leaves all but one statewide office open in 2020


State Auditor Matt Rosendale announced Monday he is running for the U.S. House seat now held by Republican Greg Gianforte, continuing a shifting of candidates following Gianforte’s announcement last weekend at the state GOP convention that he was running for governor.

“My commitment to give back to Montana has never been stronger,” Rosendale said in a release Monday. “I’m running for the U.S. House to serve and work for the people of Montana. I pledge to always listen, represent our values, and protect our Montana way of life.” 

Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who previously said he was running for governor, announced at the convention he had shifted his campaign to the House seat.

Former state Rep. Kathleen Williams, D-Bozeman, who lost the race for the seat in 2018, declared earlier this year she again was running for that position.

Following Republicans taking four of the five statewide seats in the 2016 election, that leaves only one race with an incumbent.

Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen announced earlier this year she is running for re-election in 2020.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock cannot run for re-election because he is barred by term limits, as is Republican Attorney General Tim Fox.

Fox, who won the attorney general race in both 2012 and 2016, was one of the first Republicans to declare his candidacy for governor.

Fox ran for attorney general in 2008, as well, but lost to Bullock in that race.

The other Republicans who have announced their candidacy in the 2020 gubernatorial race are state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell and former state Sen. Gary Perry of Manhattan.

Democrats who have said they are in the governor’s race are state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner of Great Falls and former state Rep. Reilly Neill, D-Livingston.

Bullock has announced his candidacy for U.S. president and is continuing his run despite the Democratic National Committee excluding him from the first Democratic primary debate, split into two nights with 10 candidates each June 26-27..

Bullock announced Tuesday he is holding televised town halls around the first debates and that he has qualified for the second debate in July.

Not everyone in their parties are pleased with Gianforte’s and Bullock’s candidacies.

Some Democrats have said Bullock should be challenging against Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., in the 2020 election, saying Bullock has a good chance to take back the seat from the Republicans.

Republicans have urged Gianforte to stay in the House, campaigning for re-election there to keep that seat red. They say the party should back Fox as its best bet for governor, and Gianforte should stay out of that race.

Some of the Republicans in the governor and U.S. House race have previously run for those seats.

Olszewski and Rosendale both ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018, with Rosendale winning the four-way primary that also included Troy Downing and Russ Fagg. He lost to incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who won his third term in the 2018 general election.

Rosendale, Stapleton and Arntzen, along with Drew Toriano, also ran for the U.S. House in 2014 when Daines left his seat there to run for U.S. Senate. They lost to former state Sen. Ryan Zinke, who resigned during his second term in the House to take the position of U.S. secretary of interior.

Gianforte won a special election in 2017 to take Zinke’s place, one day after he assaulted a reporter from the Guardian who was attempting to interview Gianforte. He won re-election in 2018, defeating Williams and Libertarian Elinor Swanson of Billings.


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