Williams names eastern Montana farmer as running mate in governor race

Buzz Mattelin

(KPAX) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Whitney Williams named northeastern Montana farmer Buzz Mattelin as her running mate Monday, completing the field for the state’s top 2020 electoral contest.

Williams, at a Capitol news conference, introduced Mattelin and called him a “fighter for Montana families” and “a businessperson with the executive experience to get the job done.”

Mattelin, 67, who has a barley, wheat and sugar beet farm west of Culbertson along the Missouri River, said his first inclination when Williams asked him about the job was to say no.

But he said he decided to sleep on it, and then chose to join Williams as her lieutenant governor running mate.

“We bring vastly different life experiences to this campaign, but we share core Montana values,” Mattelin said. “We care about all the diverse people who call Montana home.”

Williams is one of six people running for Montana’s open governor’s seat this year, and the last one to name her running mate. The contest has one other Democrat, three Republicans and a Libertarian.

Williams, 48, is opposing Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney in the Democratic primary. She’s the founder of williamsworks, a Missoula-based business that helps individual and corporations launch philanthropic efforts around the country and the world.

She’s also the daughter of former Montana Congressman Pat Williams and former state Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams, who attended Monday’s news conference in Helena.

Mattelin is president of the National Barley Growers Association and has served on the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, the local conservation district and the Culbertson School Board.

“After 43 years of running my own farm and 30 years of promoting agricultural conservation … I will take up any opportunity to bring agricultural issues and our rural economy and the concerns of those folks to Helena,” he said. “I’m excited to do this alongside Whitney.”

He also noted that his presence will be the first time in many years that an eastern-Montana farmer has been on a gubernatorial ticket in more than 30 years.

When asked why he’s a Democrat in rural Montana, Mattelin said that “Democrats care about everybody, they care about people.”

“It’s easy to be not a Democrat, until you have a problem,” he said. “When you start having problems, you find out that Democrats care about everybody and all the issue.”