Current Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton plans to run for governor in 2020.
Stapleton says he’s the right person for the job once Governor Steve Bullock terms out of the office in 2020.
“You live for the day and I think this open governor's seat in 2020 is a great opportunity. And I hope Montanans agree.”
Stapleton announced his candidacy for governor, in part, through a press release sent from the Montana Secretary of State’s office Wednesday morning.
Stapleton was elected the secretary of state in 2016.
This is Stapleton’s second attempt at the governor’s seat. In 2012, he lost the Montana GOP nomination to Rick Hill.
The Secretary of State Office announcement of Stapleton’s 2020 plans praised the work of the office under his leadership the last two years.
Stapleton says he wants to, “Steer toward a Montana that has stronger families and higher wages, lower taxes and smaller government.”
The timing of Stapleton’s announcement comes as lawmakers start to gather in Helena for the 2019 legislative session.
"I don’t shy away from trying to help the policies that I think are helpful to Montana and to work with those legislators. So I’ll continue to do that. They’re here for four months and then they're gone. And they won’t be back until we elect a new governor. So I see it as a great opportunity to work on some of the ideas,” Stapleton says.
Stapleton is starting out the year with at least $32,000 in his campaign war chest, according to the latest finance reports filed in October.
He can spend most of that during the primary race, which could pit high-profile members of the Republican Party against one another.
Republican Attorney General Tim Fox told the Great Falls Tribune this fall he is considering a run for the office.
Fox and Stapleton recently traded barbs when the secretary of state spent nearly $60,000 to hire his personal political attorney to represent the office in a legal challenge over the Green Party’s access to the ballot.
Fox called Stapleton’s action a political decision that needlessly spent the money and lost the case. Stapleton fired back that he hired the best lawyer for the job and Fox's comments were hypocritical.
The feud could be an advance preview for what Montanans will see once more contenders step into the Republican Party primary.