Republican leaders select three candidates to replace Helena state Sen. Gauthier

Gauthier Replacement Candidates
Posted at 6:44 PM, Dec 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-02 20:44:26-05

HELENA — Republican leaders in Lewis and Clark and Powell Counties have nominated three candidates to replace state Sen. Terry Gauthier, R-Helena, after his resignation.

On Friday, a joint panel from the two county central committees met at the state GOP headquarters in Helena to choose finalists to take over the seat representing Senate District 40 during the next legislative session. The district covers Helena’s west side, the north Helena Valley, Unionville, Rimini and Lincoln in Lewis and Clark County, as well as all of northern Powell County, including Elliston, Avon, Helmville and Ovando.

The candidates are:

  • State Rep. Becky Beard, R-Elliston, who currently represents House District 80
  • Conrad Evarts, a Lewis and Clark County business owner who ran for county commission earlier this year
  • Matt Olson, a Helena businessman and former candidate for Senate District 42

A fourth candidate – Zack Wirth, the owner of Rocking Z Guest Ranch – was not selected as a finalist.

Darin Gaub, chair of the Lewis and Clark County Republican Central Committee, oversaw the meeting but did not vote. He said they had a “great problem”: choosing between many qualified candidates.

“We love them all, and we would love to see all of them in our Legislature, or whether it be a county commission, whatever it may be,” he said. “It's not often you get to have that many people sit in front of you like this, and you just know that the hardest decision you're going to have to make is the one that just this time is not going to make it. But maybe in the future they will.”

Three central committee members from Lewis and Clark County and three from Powell County asked questions of the candidates, on issues from the economy to abortion, education and natural resource development. They then voted, with their votes weighted based on the percentage of district voters living in each county.

Gaub said, once he officially submits the names of the three candidates, the county commissions in Lewis and Clark and Powell Counties will have 15 days to hold a joint meeting and appoint one of them to finish out the last two years of Gauthier’s term. Again, the votes will be weighted based on how much of the district is in each county. Lewis and Clark County commissioners will have approximately 90% of the voting power.

Gauthier, a retired business owner, represented Senate District 40 from 2017 until his resignation last month.

“I’m very excited for Helena to know that the next senator going into the state Legislature is going to represent them with the same passion that Sen. Gauthier did,” said Gaub.