HELENA — Republican Joe Dooling, a farmer and rancher from Helena, on Thursday became the third Republican and fourth candidate overall to file for Montana’s open U.S. House seat in 2020.
Dooling, 44, noted that he’s the only working farmer and rancher in the race – and said he’d like to win the seat and build some seniority for an office that has seen plenty of turnover lately.
“I think what resonates with people out there, is I don’t want to be the senator or the governor,” he told MTN News before he paid his filing fee. “I’m just going to be our congressman and serve for a period of time so we can build up some leadership and get some of those, wants, needs and wishes from the federal government.”
The seat – Montana’s only one in the U.S. House – is open because incumbent Republican Greg Gianforte is running for governor this year.
Gianforte won the seat in 2017, after its current occupant, Ryan Zinke, was appointed U.S. Interior secretary. Zinke won the seat in 2014, when one-term congressman Steve Daines successfully ran for the U.S. Senate.
Dooling paid his filing fee in person at the secretary of state’s office in the Capitol and had a political colleague by his side – his wife, state Rep. Julie Dooling, who filed to run for re-election.
Julie Dooling represents state House District 70, which stretches from Helena to Townsend and nearly to Three Forks.
Her filing fee is $15, for the state Legislature – while her husband’s fee was a bit more: $1,740, or 1 percent of a U.S. House member’s salary.
Dooling joined former Republican Party chair Debra Lamm and political unknown John Evankovich of Butte as the GOP candidates who have filed for U.S. House.
Three other Republicans are running: State Auditor Matt Rosendale, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and Corvallis Superintendent of Schools Tim Johnson.
The only Democrat filing so far is former state lawmaker Kathleen Williams, who lost the 2018 race for this seat to Gianforte.
Two other Democrats are in the hunt as well: Simms rancher Matt Rains and state Rep. Tom Winter of Missoula.