Gianforte taps running mate for Montana governor race

(KPAX) BILLINGS — Congressman Greg Gianforte announced Great Falls lawyer Kristen Juras as his running mate in the GOP primary election for Governor Sunday in at a campaign event inside The Pub Station in Billings.

“I am excited about running as his Lt. Governor and working to make Montana an even better last best place,” Juras told the crowd after Gianforte introduced her.

Juras is originally from Conrad and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Montana. She received a law degree from the University of Georgia in 1982. Juras practiced law privately for 18 years, then taught at the University of Montana from 2000 to 2013.

If elected, Gianforte and Juras hope to jump-start the state economy and create more Montana jobs so young professionals don’t have to move away to find work.

“My son Evan, a graduate from Montana Tech, could only find a job out of state. Just last year, Evan accepted a job in Bozeman because of a high-tech growth industry that Greg and Susan and their company has spurred in Bozeman. I want all of you out there that have kids out of state to have the same opportunity to welcome your children home,” Juras said.

Along with that, the pair want to roll back regulations on small businesses in Montana. Gianforte wanted to cut through the bureaucracy that he said was added after 16 years of a democrat as governor.

“She’s seen first-hand how red tape and misguided priorities have left too many folks struggling in Montana. She’s helped farmers and ranchers and small businesses navigate the red tape and bureaucracy that we’ve created here,” Gianforte said.

Juras ran for a Montana Supreme Court seat in 2016 and lost to Dirk Sandefur from Great Falls by a 56%-to-44% margin.

Gianforte is the last Republican governor candidate to announce a running mate, something he must do before he files as a candidate. Other Republicans vying for the nomination are Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell.

Gianforte has held Montana’s lone House seat since June 2017. He won a special election to fill the vacancy left when then-Rep. Ryan Zinke was appointed as President Trump’s first Secretary of the Interior. The Republican beat Democrat Kathleen Williams with a 50%-to-46% margin. In Gianforte’s previous governor’s bid in 2016, he lost to Democrat Steve Bullock by a 50%-to-46% margin.