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Candidate filing kicks off for Montana’s 2022 elections

HELENA — Candidate filing for Montana’s 2022 elections kicked off Thursday morning at the Capitol, with a pair of hopefuls for Montana’s newly minted western congressional district topping the list.

Democrat Cora Neumann filed first for District 1, just after 9 a.m. at the secretary of state’s list, and an hour later Republican Al Olszewski showed up to pay his $1,740 filing fee to run for the seat.

Neumann and Olszewski are two of at least a half-dozen candidates expected to run for the new western district, which is an open seat and covers all or part of 16 counties and the cities of Butte, Kalispell and Missoula.

In Montana’s eastern district, or District 2, U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale is running for re-election and hadn’t yet filed Thursday – but a little-known Democrat, Skylar Williams of Billings, filed to oppose him.

Most filing for office occurs electronically in Montana, but candidates can file in-person at the secretary of state’s office – and state Sen. Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, was first in line Thursday at 8 a.m. to pay his $15 fee to run for re-election in Senate District 1, in the far northwest corner of the state.

Right behind him Thursday were Laura Smith, a Democrat running for House District 79 in Helena, and state Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell, a Democrat running in Senate District 42, which includes East Helena and part of Helena.

More than 60 legislative candidates had filed as of Thursday afternoon.

Two candidates for the Public Service Commission also filed Thursday – Republican Derek Skees of Kalispell, running in western Montana’s open District 5, and Republican Commissioner Randy Pinocci of Sun River, running for re-election in northern Montana’s District 1.

However, the boundaries of the PSC districts are the subject of an active lawsuit before a federal appeals court, that alleges they must be redrawn because the districts’ populations are no longer equitable. A ruling is expected within the week.

And, finally, several candidates for district judge filed Thursday – including Michele Levine of Great Falls, who had been appointed as a district judge by former Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, in 2020, but lost her job when the Republican-controlled state Senate refused to confirm her in 2021.

Levine is challenging District Judge David Grubich — the person who Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte appointed to take Levine’s place.