Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton announced Saturday morning his plans to “unite Republicans” by running for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2020 election — effectively abandoning his run for governor.
Stapleton’s move comes just one day after the current congressional occupant, Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, officially launched his campaign for Montana’s governor. Gianforte, the former Bozeman businessman, declared himself a candidate at the Republican Party Convention in Helena on Friday after having filed the necessary paperwork the week beforehand.
In a press release to MTN News, Stapleton touted his experience as secretary of state as well as his time serving in the U.S. Navy. He also condemned what he sees as fragile values being upheld in the nation’s capital.
“With a new rise of failed socialist ideology in Washington D.C., the stakes are too high to not unite and do the right thing for the conservative movement,” Stapleton said in the release. “As a businessman, a family man, and a former naval officer, I know we can solve the biggest problems while putting people above politics.”
Stapleton elaborated further on his alacrity to collaborate with leaders in Washington, saying that if elected, he is willing to work with President Donald Trump on issues of import.
“I’ll partner with President Trump to keep moving our country forward,” he said.
Stapleton is the first Republican to enter the race for U.S. House. He served in the Navy for 11 years, according to the release, and is a fourth-generation Montanan. A former financial advisor, he holds a bachelor’s degree in general engineering from the Naval Academy and two master’s degrees: one in political science and the other in financial services. He also served as a Republican in the Montana Legislature from 2001-9, describing himself as a “champion … [of] important energy, natural resource, agriculture and business legislation.”
The Montana secretary of state faced criticism earlier this year following the initial launch of his campaign for the governorship. The Montana Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Stapleton for using his official state email account to send out a press release to supporters.
Saturday’s statement regarding the run for Congress was obtained by MTN News from an email address associated with Stapleton’s campaign website — not an official government email address.
The race for Montana’s only U.S. House seat now has three contenders. Two Democrats are in the running: Kathleen Williams, a former state legislator who lost the seat to Gianforte last cycle, and Tom Winter, a state representative from Missoula. If Stapleton goes unopposed, he will be the Republican nominee come November 2020.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.