(HELENA) Another candidate is joining the race for Montana’s open U.S. House seat.

The Montana Libertarian Party picked Mark Wicks of Inverness as their nominee Saturday during a special nominating convention at the Eagles Lodge in Helena.

Wicks won the nomination on the third ballot, 9-7 over Joe Paschal of Broadwater County. Six other candidates also took part, including Evan Gardner, Chris Colvin and Dan Nelson of Flathead County, Rufus Peace of Livingston, Nathan McKenty of Billings and Jim White of Helena.

Wicks describes himself as a rancher, entrepreneur and writer. He says his top priority will be reducing federal spending. He also called for phasing out the U.S. Department of Education – leaving education policy to the states – and giving veterans more options to receive health care outside the VA system.

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“Hopefully with somebody back there that’s interested in liberty, we can start getting some of these bad laws off the books,” said Wicks. “Maybe we can do some business without eight different alphabet agencies coming down on our back.”

The special election for the House seat vacated by now-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will be held May 25. Wicks will appear on the ballot along with Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist. He set himself apart from both men, saying he would be better able to represent Montana’s interests in Congress because he wouldn’t face pressure from either major party.

“We need to get some other people in there that can speak on their own and promote different ideas than the two parties that are there,” he said.

Saturday’s event was the Montana Libertarian Party’s first-ever statewide convention. Party chairman Ron Vandevender said the interest it received is a positive sign for Libertarians going into this special election and the 2018 election cycle.

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