Your First Post-Session Rumors: Elsie Arntzen Running with Greg Gianforte? Melissa Romano Planning Another Bid for OPI?

Not a lot of substance on this one yet, but a tipster in Billings points out that Congressman Greg Gianforte and Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen have a number of scheduled events together in Yellowstone County that have little to do with the jobs either currently holds and some are speculating that Gianforte might select the linguistically challenged former legislator as his running mate in his next bid for governor.

The decision would make sense in Gianforte’s world.  As Superintendent, Arntzen has bizarrely endorsed spending public dollars on private schools and Gianforte, who barely won Yellowstone County against Governor Bullock in 2016 might be able to make himself believe that the Billings native would help his chances of carrying the state.

Though Arntzen has to be regarded as the most vulnerable of the Tier B seats in 2020, her departure for a Gianforte ticket would give Democrats a huge leg up in those races. With Attorney General Tim Fox termed out and running for governor, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton still leaning towards a quixotic gubernatorial bid, Matt Rosendale itching to jump into the Congressional race as soon as Gianforte announces for governor, Arntzen’s departure from OPI would create four open races that should offer Democrats a significantly better chance to recapture the Land Board.

Whether Arntzen jumps out of the race or not, we’re hearing that 2016 candidate Melissa Romano is likely to run for the seat again this cycle. With much-rumored candidate Angela McLean in the running for the Dean of Helena College, Romano, who has continued to gather accolades as a teacher, would make a strong candidate the second time around.

We’re also hearing that another exciting Democratic candidate is likely to enter the fray for the Attorney General’s race in the coming days.

We’re about to enter some wild times, with a series of announcements likely to drop in the next few days and weeks. And it’s about time. Democrats will be well-positioned to make big gains in 2020 if we get some candidates out there raising money and connecting with voters.

Any tips about other races? Feel free to drop me a note.


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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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