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More candidates announcing House bids well ahead of filing day

The already-crowded field of candidates vying for Montana’s U.S. House seat continues to grow.

Current Republican Representative Steve Daines announced earlier this month he will be running for the Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Senator Max Baucus in 2014.

Helena Real Estate Investor Drew Turiano says he’s running for the House seat as a Republican. It’s his second time running for office in Montana after coming in last in a four-way Republican Primary for Secretary of State in 2012. He hopes that loss has helped with name recognition for this race.

“What I offer Montana is conservatism,” Turiano said. “That’s why I’m running.”

He described himself as a Christian Tea-Party Conservative Republican. Turiano said he is completely against abortion and takes a hardline stance against illegal immigration. He said he is a strong believer in the concept of nullification.

“(That’s) where states can reject unconstitutional judicial mandates or unconstitutional federal laws like Obamacare, for instance, or Roe v. Wade, for instance,” he said.

The theory of nullification has been repeatedly rejected by the courts. But Turiano is not swayed in his conservative stances, even if they lead to criticism from Democrats or even Republicans.

“I don’t mind if they call me names,” he said. “Some candidates unfortunately do mind being called names and they don’t take a hard position on some of these issues which a lot of conservatives in Montana really want them to take a hard position.”

Turiano joins three other candidates who say they will be running on the Republican side. Former Republican Legislators Corey Stapleton and Ryan Zinke say they will run as well as current Glendive Republican Senator Matt Rosendale. Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson also says he is planning to run. But Johnson says he’s waiting to make his formal announcement until after the first of the year.

“Folks have a lot of other things to focus on, family and friends and quality time over the holidays and we just didn’t want to get in the middle of all that,” Johnson said, adding his announcement may get more undivided attention if he makes it separate from the rest of the pack.

As of now, the Democratic side of the House race has two candidates--former Max Baucus state Director John Lewis and Missoula writer Melinda Gopher.

The race also now has its first independent candidate. Helena resident Shawn White Wolf works for the Montana United Indian Association, which helps Native Americans pursue education and find jobs. White Wolf said he has run twice unsuccessfully for the state legislature before, once as a Republican and another time as a Democrat.

He said it’s taken him awhile to find where he stands on issues. Now, he says he’s fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Running as an independent allows him to avoid being put in a political box. He said he wants to direct his focus to finding jobs for poor people.

“People who are working two or three jobs and still live under the poverty rate. They need help. They need help with healthcare and they need help with food and things like that,” he said.

As for social issues, he says he’ll let other candidates campaign on those.

“They can scream about it all they want,” he said.

White Wolf says his first priority is to gather almost 13,000 signatures.

He needs that to run for office, because independents are not part of what are called qualified parties in Montana. Those parties are the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties. They qualify by having a certain number of candidates on ballots over a certain amount of time. Candidates in these parties don’t have to gather signatures. However, none of the candidates of any party who have announced their intentions can actually file yet.

“No, they can’t file with our office until January 9th,” she said.

The last day to file for office in 2014 is March 10th. However McCulloch said a candidate does have to file with the Commissioner of Political Practices if they have already started raising money.

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