Montana voters will have a hefty ballot to consider in 2020, packed with decisions about the U.S. presidential election, two of Montana’s three congressional seats, and five statewide offices including governor.

Even with a year and a half until Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, Montana candidates aspiring and declared have begun jockeying for position in primary elections set for June 2, 2020. Keeping track can feel like herding cats. The round-up that follows can help.


The governor is the state’s chief executive, tasked with overseeing state agencies and proposing state budgets to the Montana Legislature. The governor also holds one of five seats on the Montana Board of Land Commissioners, which has authority over state trust lands.

Current Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is termed out after two four-year terms in office — and has launched a campaign for president. Democrats have controlled the office since Gov. Brian Schweitzer was first elected in 2004.


Announced — Attorney General Tim Fox

Fox, wrapping up his second four-year term as Montana’s attorney general, announced his campaign for governor in January. Originally from Hardin, he has a University of Montana law degree and formerly worked as an attorney in private practice.

See also:

MTN News / Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announces campaign for governor

Lee Newspapers / Attorney General Tim Fox announces run for Montana governor

Announced — Secretary of State Corey Stapleton

Stapleton, a former state senator, was elected secretary of state in 2016 and made unsuccessful primary bids for governor in 2012 and the U.S. House in 2014. According to MTN News, he has an engineering degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and previously worked as a financial adviser in Billings.

See also:

MTN News / Stapleton announces bid for governor

Announced — state Sen. Al Olszewski

Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon and state senator from Kalispell, announced his gubernatorial campaign in April. He previously ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018, placing fourth in the Republican primary.

See also:

Associated Press / State Senator Al Olszewski Announces Run for Governor

Filed — Former state Sen. Gary Perry

Perry, of Manhattan, filed as a gubernatorial candidate with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices April 10. He served as a state senator between 2002 and 2010.

See also:

Bozeman Daily Chronicle / Perry bids farewell to legislators

Rumored — U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte

Gianforte was the Republican nominee for governor in 2012, but failed to derail Gov. Steve Bullock’s re-election bid. Jumping into politics after founding and selling RightNow Technologies in Bozeman, he was elected to the U.S. House in the 2017 special election and re-elected to a two-year term in 2019. He told the Glasgow Courier in April that he was “seriously considering” another bid for the governor’s office.

See also:

Glasgow Courier / Gianforte ‘Seriously Considering’ Run for Governor

MTN News / Sources: Gianforte preparing to run for governor in 2020


Rumored — Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney

Cooney, a former Montana legislator and secretary of state, has been Bullock’s lieutenant governor since 2016. MTN News has named him as a potential Democratic candidate for governor, citing unnamed sources that say he is “seriously considering the race.”

Rumored — Former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke

Punke, who served as U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization in the Obama administration, is better known in Montana as the author of the novel The Revenant, which was adapted into the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He lives in Missoula and, according to his LinkedIn profile, currently works as a vice president of global public policy for Amazon Web Services.

Punke was named as a potential Democratic Senate or gubernatorial candidate in a May report by Washington, D.C.-outlet Politico, which cited two anonymous sources.

See also:

Politico / ‘The Revenant’ author considering run for Montana Senate or governor

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