GOP Early Birds Enter Montana 2012 Governor’s Race

Some political early birds are already out trying to catch the first worms in Montana’s 2012 – yes, that’s right, 2012 – election.

Former Republican state Sens. Corey Stapleton of Billings and Ken Miller of Laurel were the first to officially enter the 2012 race for governor. Term limits prevent Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer from seeking a third term so it will be an open seat.

Stapleton announced July 19 that he was running, while Miller followed suit Aug. 9.

They’ll be running in the GOP primary in June 2012 – nearly 22 months from now.

That’s a long time to spend out on the rubber-chicken circuit, to couch-surf at friends’ houses and to hit up people for donations. It sounds like a grueling ultra-marathon.

Is it crazy to dive into a race so early?

Maybe not. This is one large, 147,000-square-mile state, with a lot of lightposts between people, as former U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., used to say.

Look at Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer. He never really stopped running after narrowly losing to Burns for the Senate in 2000. Over the next few years, Schweitzer was a fixture at local and state Democratic Party events. He scarcely missed a county Democratic picnic, potluck or women’s club luncheon.

By the time 2004 rolled around, Schweitzer had nearly pre-empted the Democratic field. He coasted to an easy primary victory and went on to win the general election.

Read more from Charles S. Johnson at

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