Elinor Swanson, Libertarian candidate for U.S. House (Courtesy: Warren & Swanson, PLLC)

HELENA – A Libertarian candidate is jumping into the race for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat, becoming the first third-party candidate to file for a statewide office this year.

Elinor Swanson filed with the Montana Secretary of State’s office and the Federal Election Commission Monday. She joins five Democratic candidates in the race against Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte.

Swanson is an attorney with the Warren and Swanson law firm in Billings, specializing in personal injury, medical malpractice and constitutional law. She is currently the first vice-chair of the Montana Libertarian Party, and previously served briefly as chair.

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Swanson said this is her first time running for public office, and that she ran to make sure that Montana voters would have a Libertarian option in the race.

“I couldn’t stand that there wasn’t an L on the ballot,” she said.

Swanson said she wants to make the national debt a priority during her campaign, saying the Republican and Democratic Parties are not serious about reducing it. If elected, she said she would stand up against what she sees as unnecessary government spending.

“It’s not that hard to say no,” said Swanson.

Swanson also wants to encourage what she calls “Live and Let Live” social policies. She said Libertarian positions can appeal both to people on the right who value freedom and those on the left who value diversity.

Swanson was the sixth U.S. House candidate to file with the Montana Secretary of State. The Democratic candidates are Billings attorney John Heenan, former land-trust director Grant Kier of Missoula, former state Sen. Lynda Moss of Billings, Bozeman attorney Jared Pettinato and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams of Bozeman. Gianforte has not yet filed with the Secretary of State, but a spokesperson said Tuesday he is likely to file soon.

Last week, Montana Libertarian Party chair Michael Fucci told MTN several Libertarian candidates were still considering running for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s seat. Swanson said she had not been one of those candidates.

The deadline for candidates to file is March 12.