HELENA — Many Montana candidates’ 2024 campaigns have been up and running for a while, but Thursday marked the first day candidates could take official steps to get their names on this year’s ballot.
At 8 a.m., Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen opened the doors of her office at the State Capitol in Helena.
“Good morning, welcome to candidate filing!” she said.
The Secretary of State’s Office then began accepting filings, in person and online. By 4:30 p.m., 108 candidates had submitted their information. The majority filed online, but many came to turn in their paperwork in person.
The first candidate to file in person Thursday morning was state Sen. Becky Beard, R-Elliston. Appointed to the Senate last year, she’s now running for a full four-year term, in a newly-drawn district covering most of Powell, Granite and Jefferson Counties.
The first statewide candidate at the Secretary of State’s Office was Brad Johnson, a Republican running for U.S. Senate – who was himself secretary of state from 2005 to 2009.
“I think that people are going to see that I’m the real deal, and I wanted them to understand the level of commitment by my being here in person,” he said.
In the first 90 minutes of the filing period, 17 candidates came to the Capitol to fill out their paperwork and pay a filing fee. By the end of the day, a total of 26 had visited to file in person. In addition to Beard and Johnson, they included:
· Joel Krautter, of Billings, an attorney and Republican candidate for Montana’s eastern U.S. House seat
· Three candidates running for seats on the Montana Supreme Court – former federal magistrate judge Jerry Lynch, running for chief justice, and district court judges Katherine Bidegaray of Sidney and Dan Wilson of Kalispell, competing for an associate justice position.
· Bowen Greenwood, clerk of the Montana Supreme Court, who is seeking a second four-year term
· Ben Alke, of Bozeman, an attorney and Democratic candidate for Montana attorney general
· 18 more candidates for the state legislature, from as far away as Glasgow and Wolf Point.
Filing online Thursday were two candidates for the state Public Service Commission: incumbent vice-chair Jennifer Fielder, a Republican from Sanders County, running in District 4, and former commissioner Kirk Bushman, a Republican from Billings, running in District 2.
Despite sub-zero temperatures and blowing snow in Helena, the Secretary of State’s Office reported significantly more candidates filed in person on the first day than in 2022. Many candidates told MTN they were in Helena anyway for legislative interim meetings or to attend the Montana Chamber of Commerce’s Business Days at the Capitol event.
Anyone wanting to run for office in 2024 has two more months to file. When filing closes on March 11, we’ll have the final picture of who’s in and who’s out.