Absentee voters across Montana are receiving their ballots for the June primary election. Election officials mailed out 170 thousand ballots this week. That may end up being half the total number of voters that participate in the primary.
Some hopefuls in the republican gubernatorial race think it’s time to begin a TV advertising blitz.
Out of seven Republican candidates for Governor, three are taking to the TV airwaves, focusing on jobs. Former Naval Officer and State Senator Corey Stapleton began airing his 30 second spot last week. He starts by referencing his former job driving aircraft carriers. He says he knows how to turn a big ship around.
“We need a ‘common sense’ conservative that will do things for the right reason. I can be that kind of Governor,” Stapleton says in the advertisement. Stapleton said in a Tuesday interview the term ‘common-sense’ describes most Montanans.
“We look at ordinary problems and have common-sense solutions and so common-sense conservative just means I’m one of us,” Stapleton said. He says his campaign is releasing another ad next week, adding a lot of military members vote absentee and hopes his status as the only active-duty military candidate will bring in that voting block.
Businessman, author and one-time counter-terrorism consultant Neil Livingstone– he’s releasing 10 television ads, buying up a lot of TV time. Livingstone says he’s buying the ads himself, along with his running mate Ryan Zinke. He believes most Republicans have yet to get to know the candidates for Governor.
“We think this race is going to be won or lost in the last four or five weeks,” he said.
The ads paint him as not a business as usual politician, he says this is about getting the state moving now.
“I’ll step on whatever toes are necessary to do that. Because the working man or working woman that doesn’t have a job today, they don’t need one in three years,” Livingstone said.
Candidate Rick Hill easily leads the Republican pack in terms of fundraising. His ad shows him standing in front of a fence post mill outside of Helena. He is focusing on his time as Montana’s U.S. Representative and as a small business owner.
Hill’s ad calls him a ‘tested conservative.’
“It’s not complicated, reduce regulations, prioritize spending, and get government out of the way so businesses like this can grow,” Hill says in the ad, pointing back at the mill. He says if small businesses in the state can each add one or two jobs, it will go a long way in reducing unemployment.
“But more important we want to find jobs that pay better and jobs like that job where we’re processing, manufacturing, those are some of the best paying jobs in Montana and we’d like to see more of those kind of jobs,” Hill said.
Other Republican candidates are former state Sen. Ken Miller, former Department of Transportation Director Jim Lynch, political newcomer Bob Fanning, and Choteau County commissioner James O’Hara.
Recent campaign finance reports indicate they might not have enough money to run significant statewide TV advertising.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.