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Helena Rancher Joins Race For Montana's House Seat

Joe Dooling.
Joe Dooling.

A third Republican has joined the race for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat.

Joe Dooling.
Credit joedooling.com
Joe Dooling.

Joe Dooling is a rancher and chairman of the Lewis and Clark County Republican party. He filed his candidacy Monday with the Federal Election Commission for the seat left open by Rep. Greg Gianforte, who is running for Montana governor.

“Congress has always dealt with the farm crisis, but it always has unintended consequences," Dooling said. "So I think it’s time that a farmer is at the table that understands what production of ag means and can advocate for farmers.”

CORRECTION: We initially reported that Dooling is an appointed member of Montana’s Farm Service Agency. Dooling is a former appointee, we regret the error. 

The 44-year-old remembers the farming crisis of the 1980s and its effects on his hometown of Dillon.

As a representative, he thinks he can help navigate through the current farm crisis.

POLITICO reported Monday that farmers will hold nearly $427 billion in debt this year, partially due to their net income dropping by half since 2013.

He joins State Auditor Matt Rosendale and secretary of State Corey Stapleton in the race for the Republican nomination. Over the past few years, Dooling found himself speaking in support of his GOP competitors, but it wasn’t all personal.

“As county chairman, you advocate for your candidates that are Republican, that’s your job as a county boss,” he said.

While Dooling’s personal Facebook page includes posts supporting opponent Matt Rosendale’s 2018 senate campaign, he says it wasn’t exactly an endorsement.

“I don’t know if it’s time to take shots yet and I’m not sure I want to take shots yet at my opponents but, I mean, his resume speaks for itself," Dooling said about Rosendale. "You can look back at how many different offices he’s ran for and do your own research. When he called me and told me he was running, I encouraged him not to. I encouraged him to stay at the land board.”

Dooling’s wife, Julie Dooling, represents state House District 70 East of Helena in the Montana legislature. He says his decision to run for congress made sense to both of them.

Former state legislator Kathleen Williams and first-term state Rep. Tom Winter are the Democrats running for the open seat.

Dooling will be holding a press conference Wednesday to officially announce his candidacy.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Cassidy Alexander is a UM Journalism School student and MTPR reporter.