Montana Democrat Whitney Williams announces run for governor

Answering a hot political rumor, Whitney Williams on Thursday announced her campaign for governor, joining Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and Casey Schreiner in seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Williams, the daughter of former Rep. Pat Williams and former Montana Sen. Carol Williams, announced her campaign in a press release and video following her official announcement in Helena.

“I’m running for governor to fight for the Montana that we call home — to put my experience as a businesswoman solving complicated problems towards bringing opportunity to every corner of the state,” she said.

Williams is known across the state as a successful businesswoman who founded her own company working alongside Fortune 500 companies and charities. Her work has focused on post-disaster relief, ensuring students have a sound education, and creating opportunities for workers by opening up markets for their products.

As governor, Williams said she would work to bring investment to small towns, drive down prescription drug costs, strengthen public education and protect public lands.

“We need to fight for an economy that brings opportunity to everyone in all parts of our state, fight to protect public lands from private developers, and to bring down the cost of health care and prescription drugs,” she said.

Williams took aim at Rep. Greg Gianforte in her campaign announcement, calling him a “wealthy out-of-stater from New Jersey” who “does not share our Montana values.”

Gianforte and current Attorney General Tim Fox are the leading Republicans vying for the governor’s seat. Fox issued a statement after Williams made her announcement.

“Montana Republicans need a strong candidate who can beat whomever the Democrats nominate — especially a well-connected insider like Whitney Williams,” said Fox Campaign Manager Jack Cutter. “Greg Gianforte’s lackluster performance in 2016 proves he’s not up to the task. Tim Fox’s success as Montana’s Attorney General proves he’s both a candidate who can win a general election, and he’s a person Montanans can be proud of as their next governor.”

Williams is a sixth-generation Montanan and graduate of the University of Montana.

“The Montana that we love is changing, and the Montana I grew up in is harder and harder to find,” Williams said. “My parents taught me that being a Montanan is a privilege, but that it’s up to every generation to fight for it.”