A record number of candidates file in 2012 Montana elections

Montana sets a new candidate record as the filing season for the 2012 election came to a close Monday night.

439 total candidates filed for 2012, compared with 379 in 2010 and 388 in 2008.

325 of those are for seats in the 2013 State Legislature. 114 are for non-legislative seats like Governor, U.S. Senate or the President.

Some big names waited until the last minute.

The first filing day this year broke the state record back in January. It was another busy day at the Capitol Building for the last day. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch calls it fast and furious.

“It’s all kind of a flurry and everybody’s filing online and coming in and it kind of builds up to 5 o’clock,” McCulloch said.

She says both Republicans and Democrats work full steam to get candidates into empty slots for the state legislature. A lot of candidates for the big statewide and federal races file last minute too. For instance, just in the Governor’s race Independent Bill Coate and Republicans Bob Fanning and Jim Lynch filed last day.

Also Democratic Gubernatorial Frontrunner Steve Bullock filed as well as his brand new Democratic challenger, Helena Resident Heather Margolis.Democratic candidate Larry Jent backed out last week, leaving Bullock alone on the ballot. State law says without a challenger, Bullock would have to give back all donations to his primary campaign. Political pundits predicted this would lead to a last minute ‘token’ democratic challenger.

“I see those commentators as having made an accurate prediction,” said Montana GOP Executive Director Bowen Greenwood.

Heather Margolis is quick to defend her candidacy.

“There’s nothing token about me or my issues or my commitment to service,” she said.

Margolis says she’s been thinking about running since January. She has never before held an elected office and announced her intentions via a Sunday press Release.Margolis works for the organization ServeNEXT, which advocates for the expansion of National Service Programs. She’s running on a platform of Civic Engagement and volunteerism.

“It became really clear that this was a great way to promote service and to expand the debate and the conversation about what strengthens Montana,” she said.

“Every campaign for Governor for 20 years, regardless of party,” Bullock Spokesman Kevin O’Brien said. “Regardless of whether or not there was an incumbent running for reelection. So I’m not surprised at all that there’s a contested primary for the Democratic nomination.”

And now with the filing deadline past, all eyes are now pointing to the primary election, coming up June 5th.

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