Montana businessman Greg Gianforte Monday filed paperwork to establish an exploratory committee that could lead to running for Governor. An exploratory committee filing allows a candidate to begin raising money to fund a campaign.
Shortly after the Montana Democratic party distributed a copy of the form Gianforte filed with the state Commissioner of Political Practices, a representative for Gianforte issued a statement on his behalf.
"Twenty years ago Susan and I started a business in the extra bedroom of our Bozeman home. We worked hard. We created good paying Montana jobs. And over time we built a successful business that helped Gallatin County produce nearly 40% of Montana's total wage growth last year. That kind of wage growth, the kind that puts more money in the pockets of Montanans, can happen all over our state. We can do better. That's why I have filed paperwork to explore a potential run for Governor. I look forward to traveling our state and getting good ideas from hardworking Montanans about what can be done to make our home state even better."
Gianforte founded RightNow Technologies in 1997 and sold the company to Oracle Corporation in 2011 for $1.5 billion dollars.
The Montana Democratic party quickly criticized Gianforte's candidacy.
"Today Greg Gianforte, a New Jersey billionaire who is best known for believing seniors have an 'obligation to work’, supporting job-killing, pro-discrimination policies, and leading the charge on protecting dark money, filed to run for Governor. While Greg Gianforte may think the Governor's office can be bought, his extreme record will be on full display this election, a record Montanans will soundly reject." - Nancy Keenan, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.
The state Republican party responded with a statement of its own.
“It’s great to see another formidable GOP candidate consider a run for statewide office and we feel confident Montanans will elect a Republican governor in 2016. It's clear we need new leadership after witnessing Governor Bullock’s questionable competency in the management of state affairs, his dark money hypocrisy, and his failure to fight for working-class Montanans."
Gianforte's representative used an email address from the domain gregformontana.com. Although there is only a blank web page at that address, records show the name was anonymously registered in March of this year.
This story has been updated with statements from Gianforte and the Montana Republican Party. This story also originally described Gianforte as a billionaire. While the Democratic Party news release used that term, his net worth is unconfirmed.