HELENA — Democratic state Rep. Laurie Bishop of Livingston, one of the first candidates to announce her candidacy for one of Montana’s new congressional seats in 2022, said Wednesday she’s dropping out of the race.
Bishop said after evaluating the new district maps, which were made final last week, she decided instead to run again for the state Legislature next year in her Livingston-based district.
“Right now, our communities need leaders who know how to listen and work with others, no matter their political affiliation, to deliver results,” she said. “I believe the best way for me to continue to serve my fellow Montanans is by continuing to lead the Democratic Party at the state level.”
When Bishop got into the race in July, she indicated she’d be running in the state’s open, western congressional district.
But last week, the state Districting and Apportionment Commission decided on boundaries that placed Livingston in the eastern district, where incumbent U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale will be running for re-election in a very Republican-leaning district.
In Montana, congressional candidates need only be a resident of the state, and don’t have to live in the district where they live.
However, starting in 2022, Montana has two districts instead of one statewide district, which it had for the past 30 years – and in the years prior to 1992, when the state had two congressional districts, candidates generally ran in the districts where they lived.
Bishop’s departure leaves three Democrats still competing for the new western district: Bozeman health-policy expert Cora Neumann, Missoula attorney Monica Tranel and former state Rep. Tom Winter of Missoula.
Two Republicans also are vying for the seat: Former state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell and former U.S. Rep. and former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
In the eastern district, where Rosendale is expected to run for re-election, Democrat Jack Ballard of Red Lodge is challenging him.
Bishop, 51, is a three-term state lawmaker. She has been director of the Montana Afterschool Alliance, which helps coordinate and create after-school programs across the state.