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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Gianforte Selects Phillips County Commissioner And Rancher As Running Mate

Phillips County Commissioner and rancher Lesley Robinson with her husband Jim. The couple ranches near Portman on a ranch that's been in the family since the 1950s.
Courtesy Dave Skinner/Range Magazine

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte announced Phillips County Commissioner Lesley Robinson as his choice for lieutenant governor.

The Bozeman businessman says Robinson has the qualities he’s looking for in a running mate.

Gianforte says Robinson has a strong Montana work ethic. He adds that as a rancher in northeastern Montana, Robinson is a fierce advocate for rural Montana, and Montana’s number one industry.

“Agriculture needs a voice in Helena which it has sorely lacked,” Gianforte says.

He says adding someone with a strong agriculture background to the ticket was very important.  The Robinsons ranch near Zortman.

Gianforte adds Lesley Robinson will also be a strong advocate for local government.

Robinson has been a Phillips County commissioner for the past 11 years. She’s is also a Western Region representative on the National Association of Counties.

Robinson says before agreeing to join Gianforte on the ticket she says she told him she wanted an active role in the administration.

“I’m not a person who can just sit and do nothing,” she says. “I am a hard worker and I expect to have a role as lieutenant governor that’s active. He assured me that I would so that’s one of the reasons I agreed to go ahead and run as lieutenant governor.”

Robinson says she withdrew from her county commission race to run on the ticket with Gianforte. She told reporters she will remain as a Phillips County commissioner for the rest of her term.

Nancy Keenan is the executive director for the Montana Democratic Party. She says she doesn’t know much about Robinson other than she’s a Montanan. But Keenan says Robinson’s choice to join the ticket of a candidate who aligns himself with the wealthy rather than middle class Montanans says a lot.

Keenan says attention should be focused at the top of the ticket.

“What I know about Mr. Gianforte is this is about moving backward, with reckless tax cuts. We in Montana know better.”

She says the incumbent Bullock administration is fiscally responsible and the economy is strong.

Keenan calls the Gianforte-Robinson ticket, “all about reckless tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and not middle class Montanans.”

Gianforte and Robinson filed their official paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office shortly after their announcement at Helena Farm Supply in East Helena.

Incumbent Democrat Steve Bullock filed for re-election last week with his current Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney.

The deadline for candidates to file for this year’s election is March 14, 2016.

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