HELENA — Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Susan Good Geise said Wednesday she’ll be the Libertarian Party’s new candidate in Montana’s U.S. Senate race – replacing a last-minute withdrawal.
Geise, a Republican county commissioner, told MTN News she contacted the Libertarians after reading about what appeared to be a “faux Libertarian” who had filed and then withdrawn last week, leaving them without a candidate in the high-profile race.
“They needed a candidate very quickly, and I needed an avenue to express my support … about the need for the rule of law, which I believe has been severely eroded over the last several years,” she said.
She said Libertarians nominated her at a meeting Tuesday night, and that she plans to pay her candidate filing fee Wednesday – the deadline for becoming a replacement candidate.
Geise will be a candidate in what’s likely to be the most expensive campaign in Montana history and a national battleground for control of the U.S. Senate.
Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines is running for re-election, and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock became a candidate in the race on the last possible day – March 9 – elevating the race to its national stature. It’s expected to draw tens of millions of dollars in outside campaign spending.
But also on that last day of filing, Libertarian candidate Eric Fulton of Whitefish withdrew – four days after he had filed as a candidate.
Some Libertarians alleged last week that Fulton had been a “Republican plant,” meant to fool Libertarians into thinking they had a candidate and then withdrawing at the last minute, leaving them without one. Libertarians said they often face criticism from Republicans, alleging that Libertarians on the ballot in close, statewide contests pull votes away from Republicans.
Fulton told MTN News this week, via email, that the charge that he was a “Republican plant” is “entirely unfounded.” Fulton ran as a Republican in a 2014 legislative race in Bozeman.
Fulton said he withdrew after Bullock entered the race, because he felt he would no longer get any attention as a Libertarian candidate to discuss important issues like the “runaway national debt” and government surveillance.
Geise said she doesn’t know Fulton, but that his late entry and withdrawal looked unusual.
She said she won’t be able to mount an extensive campaign, because she still must work as county commissioner, but that she will be talking about issues like fiscal conservatism, the influence of “dark money” on politics and a “return to civility” in politics.
Geise also criticized Daines and Bullock. She said the Democratic governor has overseen cuts in services, like mental-health treatment, whose cost has been shifted to local governments, and she said rapped Daines for rarely meeting “face to face” with constituents.
Daines, through a campaign spokeswoman, said he looks forward to having "thoughtful conversations on how to best protect our Montana way of life," and protecting jobs, the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution and public lands.
Good, 70, has been a Lewis and Clark County commissioner since 2013; her term ends this year. She was a Republican state lawmaker from Great Falls 30 years ago and also served as chair of the state Republican Party in the early 1990s.