Constitution Party Fields 22 for Montana State House

The Constitution Party filed a slate of 22 candidates to run for Montana State House over the last few days.

From the Billings Gazette:

A last-minute rush this week of filings by candidates from the conservative Constitution Party may end up benefiting someone else in the battle to control the Montana Legislature: Democrats.

Twenty-two Constitution Party candidates filed to run for the Legislature on Wednesday and Thursday, the last two days candidates could file to run for office in the 2006 elections.

Many of those candidates filed in “swing” districts, where the race between the Democrat and Republican party candidates is expected to be close.

Jim Farrell, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said Constitution Party candidates in those districts could peel away valuable votes that otherwise would go to Republicans.

“Everywhere they run, we stand to win,” he said. “That splits the Republican vote.”

The executive director of the state Republican Party acknowledged that the Constitution Party candidates may pose problems for the GOP in some districts, but not that many.

“There are probably three or four races where it could have an impact,” said Chuck Denowh. “We’re just going to have to work harder in those.”

If the Constitution Party’s presence ends up tilting a few races to Democrats, that won’t break the heart of Constitution Party candidates, said candidate Kent Holtz of Great Falls.

“It should wake up the Republican Party, to the fact that they’re heading in the wrong direction,” said Holtz, a retired farmer running in House District 21. “When we go around and (talk to people), we have them tell us they can’t tell a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. I think that’s true.”

The difference in three or four races could mean the difference in controlling the Legislature.

The Montana House is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, and Democrats hold a tenuous 27-23 majority in the state Senate.

Democrats fielded candidates in all but four of the 125 legislative seats (100 in the House, 25 in the Senate) up for election this year—a “historic” number of candidates, Farrell said.

“We’re very proud of the candidates filing today and believe we will return in November with even stronger majorities than this past (Legislature),” he said.

Forty-six more Democrats filed this week to run for the Legislature, in the final four days of filing, which closed Thursday.

Only 17 more Republicans filed for legislative seats this week, although Denowh said most of the party’s serious candidates had filed earlier.

“(Most) of our candidates filed early,” he said. “We really focused on the races we could win. We focused on quality rather than quantity.”

Republicans failed to field a candidate in 15 of the 125 contested legislative races.

“Most of the races without Republicans are strong Democratic seats that would be long shots anyway,” Denowh said.

Constitution Party candidates also are considered long shots to win in most races. But in House District 12 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, the party’s candidate, Rick Jore, a former Republican legislator, may be the favorite.

Jore nearly won HD12 in 2004 in a three-way race with Republican Jack Cross and Democrat Jeanne Windham.

The official vote count ended in a tie between Jore and Windham, but Windham was declared the winner after the Montana Supreme Court invalidated several votes that had been counted for Jore.

Windham is running for re-election, but this year there is no Republican candidate in the race, setting up a head-to-head rematch with Jore. Most observers believe the conservative Jore can capture many of the votes that would go to a Republican.

The Constitution Party had to gather signatures from 5,000 registered voters, including a minimum amount in 33 legislative districts, to allow its candidates to file.

Holtz said the signatures were verified at the secretary of state’s office on Wednesday.

Constitution Party members strongly oppose abortion, believe that gold and silver should be the currency standard, and think government is too large.

“Our intention is to offer an alternative to the other two parties,” Holtz said. “They’ve strayed away from the Constitution. We desire to get our governments back under the discipline of the Constitution.”

5 Responses to “Constitution Party Fields 22 for Montana State House”

  1. Freelancer Says:

    I think the CP will win one or two state legislature seats nationally this year. Maybe even more. With no Republican in the race I think Rick Jore has got it wrapped up.

    I’m also starting to think this may be the year for independent and third party candidates.

  2. Forrest Says:

    DONATE TO JORE

    show the Montana supreme court how the people really feel. The ballots that were thrown out were thrown out for political reasons.

  3. Forrest Says:

    http://www.rickjore.com/

  4. undercover_ararchist Says:

    Question: It seems like the LP is some form of “major” party in Montana. Check the article on Politics1.com about how D’s, R’s, and LP candidates had to file today but other parties have a little while to wait. How did the LP attain this “major” status?

  5. Trevor Southerland Says:

    Most states have some sort of signature requirement or Presidental vote requirement for major status or party status… not sure what Montana’s situation is.

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