HELENA — Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Susan Good Geise said Friday she’s withdrawing from the race, because the Covid-19 pandemic will demand all her time as a Lewis and Clark County commissioner.
Geise, who chairs the commission, said she thought the federal government would take the lead on responding to the crisis, but that the burden is falling on local governments.
“Had I known that counties would bear the responsibility in this pandemic, I would not have volunteered to be the Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate,” she said in a statement. “I would have realized that my energy, experience and efforts had a prior commitment.”
Geise, 70, became a candidate March 18, replacing a Libertarian candidate who had withdrawn moments before the filing deadline nine days earlier. She won election to the county commission as a Republican and is a former chair of the state Republican Party.
Libertarians and other third-party candidates, while not threats to win in Montana statewide races, sometimes can be a factor in the final outcome, by attracting votes that might have gone to another candidate in a close race.
Montana’s U.S. Senate race, which likely will pit U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, is expected to be a close contest, with plenty of national money and attention.
The race will have a Green Party nominee as well.
Geise’s name is not on a primary ballot, because Libertarians have no statewide contested primaries. After she officially withdraws, the Montana Libertarian Party could name a replacement candidate for the general election.
She said Covid-19 will likely be “with us for a very long time,” and could see a resurgence during the heart of the campaign season in the fall.
“I am pretty sure I and all local government officials will have our hands full then,” she said. “I cannot be distracted. … I wish I could have foreseen how Covid-19 and the appalling lack of leadership at the federal level would impact local governments.”
Geise’s term as county commissioner expires this year.
She said she plans to return any campaign donations and that she regrets being unable to run, but that she made a commitment as commissioner to the citizens of the county, and felt that she must help lead her constituents “through these times of economic, health-care and social upheaval.”