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Montana candidate filing closes, top election races set

Montana State Capitol
Posted at 9:31 AM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 11:31:06-04

HELENA — The candidate filing deadline for Montana’s 2022 elections has passed, and we’re now getting a full, official picture of who’s running.

The two-month window for candidates to file with the Montana Secretary of State’s Office closed at 5 p.m. on Monday. They reported 40 people filed on the last day. At the final count, 287 people filed to run for the Montana Legislature, with another 46 in the other state races on the ballot.

Unsurprisingly, the most crowded fields are in the highly watched races for Montana’s two new congressional districts.

In District 1 – which covers much of western Montana, including Missoula, Kalispell, Butte and Bozeman – former Rep. Ryan Zinke is trying to return to the U.S. House. He’ll face four other candidates in the Republican primary: former state Sen. Al Olszewski, businesswoman Mary Todd, Matt Jette of Missoula and Mitch Heuer of Whitefish.

Three Democratic candidates are running in District 1: health-policy expert Cora Neumann, attorney Monica Tranel and former state Rep. Tom Winter – who officially filed just minutes before the deadline. John Lamb, a Libertarian from Bozeman, also filed for the race on Monday.

District 2 covers central and eastern Montana, including Billings, Great Falls and Helena. There, incumbent Rep. Matt Rosendale is one of four Republican candidates, along with Kyle Austin of Billings, James Boyette of Bozeman and Charles Walkingchild of Helena.

Three Democrats are also running in this district: state Sen. Mark Sweeney, Billings City Councilwoman Penny Ronning and Skylar Williams of Billings.

In addition, three Libertarians filed, all on Monday: Sam Rankin of Billings, Roger Roots of Livingston and Samuel Thomas of Missoula. Finally, Gary Buchanan of Billings filed as an independent, but will need to get petition signatures in order to qualify for the ballot.

Two justices of the Montana Supreme Court will also face challengers this year. James Brown, an attorney and chair of the Montana Public Service Commission, filed at the Secretary of State’s Office Monday. He will run against incumbent Justice Ingrid Gustafson of Billings and District Court Judge Michael McMahon of Helena.

In the other Supreme Court race, Bill D’Alton, an attorney from Billings, is running against incumbent Justice Jim Rice.

There are also two seats available on the Public Service Commission – in districts that have been newly redrawn after a federal court ruled the previous districts were unconstitutional because of wide variations in population.

In District 1, which includes Great Falls, the Hi-Line and large areas of north-central and northeast Montana, incumbent Randy Pinocci of Sun River is facing Arlo Christianson of Great Falls and K. Webb Galbreath of Browning in the Republican primary. No Democrats filed in that race.

District 5 is an open seat that includes just four counties: Flathead, Lake, Lewis and Clark and Teton. Four Republicans have filed for the position: Ann Bukacek of Kalispell, Dean Crabb of Marion, Joe Dooling of Helena and state Rep. Derek Skees of Kalispell. Democrats Kevin Hamm of Helena and John Repke of Whitefish are also running.

In the legislative races, 168 Republicans, 106 Democrats, 10 Libertarians, two Green Party candidates and an independent have all filed. Republicans currently hold a large majority in the Legislature.

You can find a full list of candidates at the Secretary of State’s website.

The primary election will be on June 7.