Anaconda native Jesse Laslovich started making a political name for himself at a young age. At 20 years old, he was the second youngest person ever elected to the State Legislature. He served two terms in the state House of Representatives before moving on to the State Senate. Laslovich has since served as an Assistant Attorney General, a special assistant U.S. Attorney and the Chief Legal Counsel at the State Auditor’s Office.
He’s now running in the Democratic Primary for State Attorney General.
“Hey! Wanna go again,” Laslovich asked his 3 year old son Cooper on Wednesday. Cooper loves this new slide at the small playground a block from their Helena home.
“With the nice weather we’re here probably if not every night then every other night,” Laslovich said.
This is the Jesse Laslovich the candidate himself wants voters to get to know–not only as a young guy who’s gotten stuff done, but as a family man. Cooper and his wife Jill feature prominently in his first campaign ad: In that ad, Laslovich also touts legislation he drafted creating stricter penalties for sexual predators and DUI offenders. Those continue to be priorities in his bid to be Montana’s top lawyer.
Here’s Laslovich speaking in a recent primary debate with his democratic opponent, Pam Bucy.
LASLOVICH: “What we have is simply not working when it comes to DUI’s, we continually read about 5th, 6th, 7th, I saw 11 DUIs,” Laslovich said during a recent primary debate with his Democratic opponent, Pam Bucy.
The Attorney General cannot enact new policies. But Laslovich says he would push on the Legislature to tighten DUI penalties. He calls consumer protection his top priority if elected–helping people who get scammed. Laslovich served as the head consumer protection attorney under Attorney General Mike McGrath.
“I still don’t think we have enough resources in the consumer protection office. It’s about education in addition to going after these companies I did it–I was on the ground doing it full time,” he said. He calls the Attorney General’s post a unique, multi-faceted position, from heading the Department of Justice to a seat on the State Land Board. And on that board, which sets policy for the state’s public lands and natural resources, he says the buzz words for candidates are responsible development.
“That’s a no-brainer, I say that too,” Laslovich said in the debate. “But it’s personal to me. You see what Anaconda’s like and what we’re dealing with. They are extraordinary people fighting through it, you see the Berkeley Pit in Butte. It’s really important that we do it right.”
He uses this phrase, it’s personal several times in this debate. This is also how Jesse Laslovich wants to be seen, as a passionate—hard worker.
“It’s about judgement,” he said at the debate, pounding on his podium. “It’s about the values you bring to the Attorney General’s Office, it’s about the work ethic you bring to the Attorney General’s Office and I’m here to tell ya there’s no one who has a better work ethic than me, I’m biased—I know.”
But when it comes to the values, the types of change Laslovich wants to affect, it more often than not sounds very much like what his opponent advocates. They both support stances taken by current Attorney General Steve Bullock on recent high profile issues like corporate campaign spending. Answers between Bucy and Laslovich during the 90 minute democratic debate almost mirrored each other many times. He doesn’t shy from that.
“We agree on a lot of things…a lot of times it’s been hard to find major differences, really,” he said.
He says their differences go to their backgrounds; Bucy has not served in the legislature and flatly says the Attorney General is not a legislative position. Laslovich says knowing the ins and outs of that lawmaking process is crucial.
“Hitting the ground running, working with the legislature, moving agenda, trying to get funding is really important. So I don’t want to be dismissive about the legislative experience,” he said.
Laslovich is hoping Democratic voters will also not dismiss that experience in this June’s primary election.