HELENA – Former state District Judge Russell Fagg Tuesday became the third Republican to file as a candidate for U.S. Senate, saying he’d be the most “electable” Republican to take on Democrat Jon Tester.

Fagg, 57, of Billings, noted that he’s been endorsed by Montana’s previous three Republican governors and two Republican former U.S. representatives.

“I think that really tells you that I’m the most electable,” he told MTN News after paying his $1,740 filing fee. “That is the goal of Montana Republicans: To defeat Senator Tester, and I think I have the best shot of doing that.”

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Fagg joined Big Sky businessman Troy Downing and state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell as Republicans who’ve paid their candidate filing fee in the Senate race.

State Auditor Matt Rosendale and Belgrade business owner Ron Murray also have been campaigning for the Republican nomination. The deadline for filing is five weeks away, on March 12.

Tester is running for a third consecutive term in the U.S. Senate. He’s raised $9.4 million for his re-election campaign, while the most any potential Republican opponent has raised is $857,000 – by Downing, and his funds include $650,000 of his own money.

Fagg served 22 years as a state District Court judge in Billings before stepping down last fall to run for the Senate, and also was a state legislator in the early 1990s.

He described himself Tuesday as “center-right, a pragmatic conservative, a fiscal conservative.”

“I’m a business Republican who really believes in limited government and individual responsibility,” he said. “I think that resonates with the Republican base.”

Fagg said he’s been endorsed by former governors Marc Racicot, Stan Stephens and the late Judy Martz, and former U.S. Reps. Denny Rehberg and Rick Hill.

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