(MTN News-HELENA) Republican state Senate Majority Leader Matt Rosendale, a rancher and real estate developer from Glendive, unexpectedly jumped into the 2016 state auditor race Friday.
Rosendale’s entry will spice up what so far had looked like a one-sided race, as Democrat Jesse Laslovich had established a huge fundraising lead over the only other declared Republican in the contest, Champ Edmunds.
Laslovich made his candidacy official on Thursday, paying his filing fee to run for the office that regulates the insurance and investment industries in Montana.
“I want to be state auditor to continue to fight for Montana families when they need the help the most, whether it’s to get an insurance company to do its job or putting a white-collar criminal behind bars,” Laslovich said in a statement Thursday.
Rosendale, an outspoken conservative, linked Laslovich with President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care reform law, saying they had worked to “limit health-care options” for Montanans and raised the cost.
“If elected, I will work to open the insurance market in Montana and, alongside a newly elected Republican president and governor, I will work to institute common-sense Montana solutions to health care,” Rosendale said in a statement.
Rosendale is up for re-election to his state Senate seat in eastern Montana, but will have to forgo that race now that he’s running for state auditor.
Rosendale first won election to the Legislature in 2010 as a state representative and won his Senate seat in 2012. He ran unsuccessfully for Montana’s only U.S. House seat in 2014, finishing third in a five-person Republican primary.
Laslovich, an attorney, currently works as chief legal counsel to the incumbent Democratic state auditor, Monica Lindeen, who is barred by term limits from running for re-election.
Originally from Anaconda, Laslovich won election to the Legislature as a college student and served in both the House and Senate. He also has worked as an assistant attorney general.
As of Dec. 31, Laslovich had raised nearly $140,000 for his campaign and had $124,000 remaining in his account.
Edmunds, a former state legislator from Missoula, had raised only $4,500 and had less than $400 in his campaign account at the end of last year.