Candidate filing for 2020 MT elections is under way

About 100 candidates for Montana office, from U.S. Senate to the Public Service Commission, paid their filing fees Thursday on this official opening day of the 2020 campaign season.

Some high-profile candidates for the top Montana races clocked in Thursday, including Democratic U.S. House contender Kathleen Williams and Supreme Court Justice Laurie McKinnon, as well as at least six dozen legislative hopefuls from across the state.

Candidates for U.S. Senate, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor and superintendent of public instruction also were among the earlier filers, paying the requisite fee to appear on the 2020 ballot.

But what’s considered the top 2020 race in Montana – the open governor’s seat – had none of its candidates file on this opening day.

Most candidates filed electronically with the secretary of state. But some still showed up in person, including state Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell, D-Helena, who was at the Capitol before 7:30 a.m. and was first in line when the office doors opened at 8 a.m.

Candidate filing will close in two months, on March 9.

Republican state auditor candidate Troy Downing of Gallatin Gateway also drove to Helena to file, saying he just likes the idea of visiting the state’s political and physical Capitol.

“I’ve got a guy working on my campaign and he’s never actually been in the Capitol before, and he was talking about how neat it is to just pull up to the building and know what happened there,” he told MTN News. “I still have a little bit of that as well.”

Downing ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 but lost in the GOP primary. This year, he has competition in the GOP primary from Nelly Nicol, for the open auditor’s seat.

While Dunwell was the first to file in person, right behind her was Democratic attorney general candidate Raph Graybill – who walked down the hallway from his office as chief counsel to Gov. Steve Bullock.

Graybill, 30, was accompanied by his wife, Marisa, and their nine-month-old daughter, Genevieve. He’s one of several younger candidates vying for statewide office this year.

“The number of candidates in their 30s that are running for statewide office right now has got to be a record for the state, and I think that’s because everyone recognizes the stakes are so big in this election,” he said. “We know on both sides that so much could change after 2020.”

Five of Montana’s top eight statewide contests are open seats this year: U.S. House, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and governor.

Many of those races have contested primaries. Graybill’s opponent in the Democratic primary for attorney general, state Rep. Kim Dudik, also filed Thursday.

Williams, who lost the 2018 race for Montana’s only U.S. House seat, is back competing for the office, which is open because incumbent Republican Greg Gianforte is running for governor.

“It’s going to be different this time because we’re going to win,” she told MTN News after she filed. “I had a lot of independents and moderate Republicans voting for me last time … and we’re just going to build on that.”

Yet she wasn’t the only person, or woman, to file for the seat Thursday.

Republican Debra Lamm of Livingston came to the Capitol to pay her filing fee and declared herself the “grassroots” candidate among Republicans, saying that many in the GOP would like to see her take on Williams.

However, both Lamm and Williams have plenty of competition in the primary. Two other Democrats and five other Republicans are in the race – including a surprise entry Thursday, political unknown John Evankovich of Butte, as a Republican.

Other statewide candidates who filed Thursday include Democrat John Mues for the U.S. Senate, Republican Christi Jacobsen for secretary of state, Mike Black for Supreme Court (against McKinnon), Supreme Court Justice Jim Shea (for his own seat) and Melissa Romano for state superintendent of public instruction.

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Letter to Fellow Montana U.S. Senate 2020 Democratic Primary Candidates

Dear Montana U.S. Senate 2020 Democratic Primary Candidates, The role of our U.S. Senators is very important to all of us living in Montana and the United States. There are very real and important consequences when somebody who is not qualified, or more interested in a political agenda rather than the interest of hard-working Montana … Continued

Round Up Web
Democratic Senate Candidate John Mues Speaks to Richland County Voters

John Mues is running for the Montana U.S. senate seat against incumbent (R) Steve Daines. Sunday afternoon, August 25, Mr. Mues spoke in front of small group at the Extension building about his desire to replace Senator Daines in the upcoming elections. Mues and wife Claudia live near Loma. They are expecting their first child shortly. Muse, 45, said he has worked in the energy sector for 11 years as a senior engineer. He has a master’s in business administration from the London Business School. John Mues also graduated from the U.S. Naval academy and trained as a submarine warfare officer and nuclear engineer. Mues participated in the Troops to Teachers Program and taught on the Fort Belknap Reservation at Hays/Lodge Pole for a number of years. He believes that his most important skill set is empathy.

Mues finds Senator Daines an “inadequate and destructive senator” representing Montana. Mues battles for this seat against Daines but also fellow Democrat Wilmot Collins who Mues refers to as “not a solid candidate.” John spoke of the “need to have a functional government” and criticized Daines and Trump for the “politicization of public offices.” Candidate Mues has several items on his agenda when he is elected to the U.S. Senate. “Job creation is at the top,” says Mues. It should be noted that U.S. unemployment rates stood at 3.7% in July of this year. Montana’s unemployment rate as of July this year was 3.4% according to the BLS current population survey. Along with increasing broadband in rural areas of the U.S. he would like to lower taxes on small to medium businesses while making sure the “economically elite” do not continue to widen economic gaps. Mr. Mues talked about the need for infrastructure policy as many basic structures are in dire need of repair or replacement. He would like to see more of the U.S., especially Montana, transition to a more clean energy economy. Though he has worked in the upstream oil & gas industry he believes that “climate change is real” and we should move into less traditional and more renewable options, like wind turbines. Mues believes that education is critical especially to increase the options and benefit of promoting trade and vocational schools. He also talked about the “trade wars” that are currently being done at the federal level. Although Mues believes that we do need to stand up to China on trade, he says that “there is a smart way and a dumb way and Trump is doing it in the dumb category.” Another aspect he would like to address is national security and border security. Mues believes that the U.S. has 6 borders to protect; all four land accesses but also the space above us and virtual boarders. Cybercrimes against citizens and U.S. government are increasing.

Mues is traveling around the state and recently wrapped up some time in Miles City. While there he toured the community and talked with local officials about the levee and flood issues. Mues is scheduled for over 20 fundraisers during the campaign.

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Great Falls Tribune
Mues enters 2020 U.S. Senate race

John Mues, a fourth-generation Montanan, announced Thursday he is in the 2020 race as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by GOP Sen. Steve Daines.

“I’m running because we need leaders who are tough, have integrity, and who want to improve the lives of all Montanans, not just the most fortunate,” Mues said in his campaign literature.

He joins Democrat Wilmot Collins, a Liberian refugee who is now mayor of Helena, in the race.  The primary is June 2, 2020 and the general election is Nov. 3, 2020.

Mues and wife Claudia live near Loma. They are expecting their first child later this year.

Muse, 45, said he has worked in the energy sector for 11 years as a senior engineer. He has a master’s in business administration from the London Business School. Mues also graduated from the U.S. Naval academy  and trained as a submarine warfare officer and nuclear engineer.

“I love my home state of Montana,” Mues said in a telephone interview discussing his decision to run. “I love my country and I have the qualifications to make a major positive difference in the lives of all Montanans, not just the economically elite.”

He listed job creation as his No. 1 issue, saying there are “unprecedented levels of economic inequality” in Montana. He said infrastructure and broadband improvements were needed. And he said there needs to be investments in the education system to make sure teachers are paid what they deserve.

Other priorities as listed on campaign literature include affordable and accessible health care, veterans care, national service programs in which people can give back to their country and clean energy.

The Montana Republican Party on Thursday called Mues “yet another Democrat running in Montana to represent the radical left and their socialist agenda of open borders, free health care for illegal immigrants, taking away our gun rights, and bankrupting our nation with single payer health care and the Green New Deal.

MT GOP chair Don Kaltschmidt said Mues would oppose President Donald Trump’s policies.

“We’re proud to see Sen. Daines work alongside President Trump to always put Montana first,” he said.

Mues said that statement underscored how concerned Daines is about re-election.

“Let’s talk about facts and not propaganda,” Mues said, adding Daines “needs to be concerned.

A spokeswoman for Daines said “Steve looks forward to having thoughtful conversations during this campaign on how to best protect our Montana way of life and create good-paying Montana jobs.”

Mues campaign literature notes he grew up in a single-family household in Helena, Deer Lodge and Wolf Point. He said that shortly after being honorably discharged from the Navy, he used a teaching certificate that he got through Montana State University and Troops-for-Teachers program teaching on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation for two years.

Mues talked briefly about a drowning accident in June in which a film producer died at Canyon Ferry Lake while shooting a campaign video for Mues.

“It was an accident,” he said, adding Montanans are no strangers to tragedy and called the death “absolutely heartbreaking.”

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Yellowstone Public Radio
Second Montana Democrat Enters U.S. Senate Race

A second Montana Democrat has announced a campaign for U.S. Senate.

The 2020 election will be John Mues first foray into politics. The engineer, former teacher and Navy veteran from Loma, Montana says he’s running to address the largest economic inequality in U.S. history.

“When you have levels of inequality like this it starts to erode and destroy our democracy. Politics are up for sale.”

In an interview Thursday, Mues took swings at incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines while promoting improvements to job creation, infrastructure, hi-speed internet access, vocational education and affordable health care.

Last month, a film producer accidentally drowned in Canyon Ferry Lake while shooting a campaign ad for Mues. He says he decided to continue his candidacy after hearing from supporters.

“Look, we’re no strangers to tragedy. At the end of the day I took on board what so many folks from Montana had to say and it is the right thing to do to move forward to make sure U.S. Senate is in good hands.”

Mues joins Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins in seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Daines.

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Billings Gazette
Democrat John Mues joins U.S. Senate race

John Mues, a Navy veteran and engineer who works in the energy field, announced Thursday he’s running for U.S. Senate in 2020.

Mues is the second Democrat to join the race to run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican who is seeking his second term. Wilmot Collins, who has been mayor of Helena since the start of 2018, is also running in the Democratic primary. No Republicans have said they’ll challenge Daines.

In launching his campaign, Mues, a fourth-generation Montanan, put Daines clearly in his sights, saying he is determined the incumbent won’t go without a serious challenger in 2020.

“I’m running for U.S. Senate because I love my home state of Montana. I love my country. I have the qualifications to make a major positive difference in the lives of all Montanans, not just the economically elite,” Mues said this week. “And Sen. Daines in my opinion, is the worst senator in my lifetime and unfit to hold public office based on his voting record and his values, which are not in sync with Montana.”

Mues said one of his primary issues if elected would be preserving and improving the Affordable Care Act. If elected, one of the first things he’d want to do is no longer allow short-term health care plans. In 2018 the Trump administration extended the amount of time for which such plans — which do not have to comply with ACA requirements such as guaranteed coverage of pre-existing conditions — could be offered.

Education is another focus for Mues. He called for increasing options for vocational education, as well as more funding and better teacher pay for K-12 educators.

“I believe education is at the root of everything. In Montana, we have so many mechanically and electrically inclined students on farms and ranches in the small towns like I grew up in. What an incredible competitive advantage for Montana if we can train these kids at the next level,” Mues said. “If we get education right, so many other things fall into place.”

Mues served in the U.S. Navy for seven years as an active duty nuclear submarine officer. While in the Navy, he participated in the Troops-to-Teachers program and earned a teaching certificate at Montana State University. He then taught for two years on the Fort Belknap Reservation.

After that, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the London Business School, and now works as a senior engineer in the energy sector. He and his wife live near Loma and are expecting their first child this year.

Mues said his experience working as an engineer on everything from zero-emission fuel cells and wind and solar projects, to oil and gas and nuclear power, puts him in a position to address climate change if he’s elected.

“We are 30 years behind where we should be in terms of technologies that could radically reduce emissions in traditional energy,” Mues said.

In an interview this week, Mues was critical of Daines’ votes on several issues, as well as the Republican senator’s allegiance to President Donald Trump. It’s a departure from the approach U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat who won reelection in 2018, took in highlighting the times Trump signed Tester’s legislation, even as Trump came to the state four times to campaign for his opponent.

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