Today was the first day Montana’s political candidates could begin filing for state and national legislative primaries in June.
In all, 145 candidates filed; that’s a record number of candidates to file on the first day of a non-presidential election year, according to the Secretary of State’s office, beating the number in 2014 by seven.
All of Montana’s 100 House seats and half of its 50 state Senate seats are up for elections in 2018. As is Montana’s senior Senate seat, and its one seat in the U.S. House.
Businessman Troy Downing of Big Sky and State Auditor Matt Rosendale are among the Republicans who have said they will challenge Tester.
Several Democratic candidates plan to challenge Gianforte, including Billings attorney John Heenan, former nonprofit director Grant Kier of Missoula and Lynda Moss of Billings.
At a press conference in Helena today, Democratic leaders introduced some of their newly-filed state legislative candidates.
"It’s time for a Democrat to represent Ravalli county," says Margaret Gorski, who is running for House District 88.
Montana Democrats report they have recruited 80 candidates they expect to file this week. Half are women, 13 Native American, and 14 under the age of 35.
More than half of the Democrats who filed Thursday were not incumbents.
Democratic State Senator Jen Gross of Billings, whose term is not up this year, said public engagement had produced a strong crop of candidates.
"Across the country and across our state, grassroots energy has inspired people to stand up and take action," she said.
On the other side of the isle, a large majority of the 49 Republican candidates who filed today were incumbents. Republicans have controlled the state Legislature for six years.
In a press release from the Montana Republican Party today, Chairman Debra Lamm described the party’s intent to create more jobs, raise wages, limit regulations and reduce government size.
Registration continues through 5 p.m. on March 12 for the June 5 primary. Candidates can register in person, online or by mail.