Missoula businesswoman and philanthropist Whitney Williams announced Thursday she’s running for governor. She’s the fourth Democrat to enter the race.
Williams launched her first campaign for public office in a video Thursday morning and then rallied a small group of supporters on the state Capitol steps in Helena that afternoon.
“I’m Whitney Williams and I’m running to be your next governor,” she says.
Williams says she will protect public lands, bring down prescription drug costs, support economic development and public education and never support a sales tax.
Williams has deep political ties in Montana. Her father, Pat Williams, represented the state in U.S. Congress for nine terms from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. Carol Williams, her mother, was the first woman to serve as the state’s senate minority and majority leader.
Whitney Williams is the founder and CEO of williamsworks, a business that helps companies and organizations, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pursue philanthropic projects around the world.
She says she moved her business to Missoula three years ago after working between Montana and Seattle for more than a decade.
Previously Williams worked as then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s trip director.
In her campaign announcement, Williams focused attacks on current Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, another gubernatorial candidate.
“With friendship and respect to those running in this Democratic primary, I can and I will defeat Greg Gianforte,” she says.
Dan Duffey, a spokesperson for Gianforte, says the Republican is focused on bringing a “positive message,” and “Greg’s message is resonating with Montanans."
The campaign manager for Republican Tim Fox says Williams is a "well-connected insider" and Fox, not Gianforte, is Republicans’ best chance at winning the governor's seat.
State Sen. Albert Olszewski is also running in the Republican primary race.
The Democrats Williams faces in the primary include state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, former state Rep. Reilly Neill and Lieutenant Gov. Mike Cooney.
Cooney issued a statement Thursday welcoming Williams to the race.