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By Tim Leeds 

Rains pulls from U.S. House race, endorses Williams

Stapleton, Rosendale, Winter yet to file


January 21, 2020

A slight shuffle in the Montana race for the U.S. House has happened, with a Democratic candidate ending his run and is endorsing another candidate.

Simms-area rancher Matt Rains announced he is ending his race and running for the state House of Representatives instead, and endorsing former three-term Montana Rep. Kathleen Williams, D-Bozeman.

“Kathleen was a proven leader for Montana in the Legislature, and I know that she’ll be an independent, hardworking leader for Montana in Congress,” Rains said this morning in a release from Williams campaign. “I have campaigned hard to make sure Montanans have a shot to get ahead, and I plan to continue that fight. I look forward to serving Montana in Helena, and working closely with Kathleen when she’s serving us in Congress.”

The total number of candidates for U.S. House on the Montana Secretary of State’s website remained at five this morning, with some conspicuous absences.

Williams, who lost the race for the seat in 2018 to Republican incumbent Greg Gianforte, is the only Democrat who has filed.

On the Republican side, the candidates listed this morning were Lewis and Clark County Republican Party Chair Joe Dooling, husband of Montana Rep. Julie Dooling, R-Helena; Republican John Evankovich of Butte, and former state Rep. Debra Lamm of Livingston, who also chaired the Montana Republican Party.

Several high-profile figures who have said they are running still had not filed as of this morning.

That includes state Rep. Tom Winters of Butte, and two top-level state officials who have said they are running for the U.S. House instead of seeking re-election to their offices.

When Gianforte announced last year he was running again for Montana governor — he lost in 2016 to Democrat Steve Bullock, who cannot run for re-election due to term limits — Montana Auditor Matt Rosendale and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, both Republicans, said they would run for the House instead of seeking re-election to their offices. Neither had filed as of printing deadline this morning.

Gianforte was first elected to Congress in a special election in 2017 to fill the seat vacated by Republican Ryan Zinke, who left that office to take over as U.S. secretary of the interior.

Gianforte defeated Montana musician Rob Quist in the June 19, 2017, special election, the day after he assaulted a reporter from The Guardian. He then defeated Williams in the 2018 regular election.

With the openings caused by declarations of intent to run for the U.S. House to fill Gianforte’s seat, Montana Rep. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, Senate President Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, and Republicans Forrest Mandeville of Columbus and Christi Jacobsen of Helena have filed in the race for Montana Secretary of State to take Stapleton’s place.

Troy Downing, a Billings businessman who was in a crowded Republican Senate primary in 2016, is one of the candidates to take Rosendale’s place as auditor, along with Republican Nelly Nicol of Helena and Rep. Shane Morigeau, D-Missoula.

The 2016 Senate race, which saw Rosendale defeat Downing, state Sen. Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell, and former state District Judge Russ Fagg, then lose to incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has another declared candidate in yet another race in which he has not filed.

Olszewski has declared as a candidate in the governor race and would face Gianforte and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, who cannot run for that office due to term limits, in the Republican primary.

On the Democrats’ side, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner of Great Falls and Missoula businesswoman Whitney Williams, daughter of retired long-time U.S. Rep. Pat Williams, have declared their candidacy for governor.

Libertarian Ron Vandervendor also has declared as a gubernatorial candidate.

As of this morning, no one had filed as a candidate for Montana governor.


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