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By Tim Leeds 

More candidates file in governor, congressional races

Daines, Cooney file, Gianforte and Williams announce lieutenant governor picks


With the deadline to file as a candidate creeping closer, more people have filed in some major races or have announced their picks for lieutenant governor.

Incumbent Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont, filed for re-election Friday, citing his endorsement by President Donald Trump, and Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney filed in his bid for governor, also announcing his pick for lieutenant governor in the race.

Cooney announced that state House of Representatives Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, D-Great Falls, who recently dropped out as a gubernatorial candidate himself, is Cooney’s running mate.

And U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., who caused a stir and shuffle last June when he announced he was again running for Montana governor instead of running for re-election to the House, has announced his choice for lieutenant governor, Great Falls attorney Kristen Juras.

Juras made an unsuccessful bid to become a Montana Supreme Court justice in 2016, losing in the general election to Dirk Sandefur.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Whitney Williams of Missoula, CEO of the problem-solving business williamsworks and daughter of longtime U.S. Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont., announced her running mate this weekend as well. Williams said her lieutenant governor candidate is Culbertson farmer and business owner, Buzz Mattelin.

Williams and Gianforte have yet to officially file as candidates.

Cooney’s filing puts him in an already lengthy list including Libertarian Lyman Bishop of Kalispell and Republicans Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, who cannot run again for that seat due to term limits, and state Sen. Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell, an orthopedic surgeon.

Bishop’s running mate is John Nesper, while Fox is running with former state Rep. Jon Knokey, R-Bozeman, and Olszewski is running with state Rep. Ken Bogner, R-Miles City.

Cooney served as Montana secretary of state and as a state legislator before becoming lieutenant governor.

Gianforte had a computer programming business in New Jersey which he sold and moved to Bozeman. He started RightNow Technologies in Bozeman, selling it before a failed bid for Montana governor in 2016, losing to Democrat Steve Bullock.

Bullock, who ended a campaign for U.S. president in December, cannot run for governor due to term limits.

Gianforte won a special election to Congress in 2017 to take the place of Ryan Zinke, who Trump appointed secretary of interior. Zinke resigned from that position December 2018.

Gianforte beat former state Rep. Kathleen Wiliams, D-Bozeman, in the 2018 election.

Williams is the sole Democrat so far in the race for the U.S. House this year, but several Republicans have announced or filed.

The most recent is Mark McGinley of Dillon, who filed Wednesday, a week after state Auditor Matt Rosendale filed. They join Butte electrician John Evankovich; Lewis and Clark County Republican Central Committee Chair Joe Dooling; Debra Lamm, both a former Montana Republican Party chair and former Republican state representative from Livingston.

But another top-level announced candidate has yet to file for U.S. House, Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton.

Both Stapleton and Rosendale announced last June they would run for the seat, after Gianforte announced his bid for governor.

Daines also joins a lengthy list of candidates, including his Republican primary challenger Daniel Larson, a hardware store manager from Stevensville, and Democratic candidates Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins, an immigrant from Liberia and U.S.Naval Reserve veteran; Mike Knoles of Bozeman, who has worked in a multitude of fields, from ranch hand to data analyst, John Mues of Loma, a U.S. Navy veteran and engineer who also taught at Hays-Lodge Pole High School and Cora Neumann of Bozeman, whose history includes working in the U.S. Department of State, starting an initiative with the offices of first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama to create the Global First Ladies Alliance and creating the conservation advocacy organization RESET.

And Fox’ terming out and Rosendale and Stapleton running for the U.S. House has opened up races for their seats.

In the race for auditor, Bozeman businessman Troy Downing, who lost the primary to Rosendale in the 2018 U.S. Senate election — Rosendale lost to Democrat Jon Tester who won his third term in the general election — faces Nelly Nicol of Billings, who works in the insurance industry, in the Republican primary.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Shane Morigeau, D-Missoula, has filed.

In the race for secretary of state, state Senate President Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, and state Rep. Forrest Mandeville, R-Columbus, and fellow Republican Christi Jacobsen, the deputy secretary of state.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, was the sole candidate this morning.

And Fox’ terming out and running for governor has opened up the race for state attorney general.

On the Republican side, former state Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, now serving as Roosevelt County attorney, is the sole candidate so far.

For the Democrats, state Rep. Kim Dudick, D-Missoula, and Raph Graybill, the chief legal counsel for the governor, are facing off in the primary.

And the race for Montana superintendent of public instruction has a rematch from four years ago.

In 2016, Republican Elsie Arntzen defeated Melissa Romano and took the office.

This year, Romano is challenging Arntzen in her bid to retain the office.


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