HELENA – Washington D.C.-based terrorism expert Neil Livingstone has made clear he intends to seek the Republican nomination for Montana governor in 2012, although an official announcement will come later.
Livingstone, who has made his living primarily as a consultant to foreign nations, corporations and others on matters of security, filed paperwork Friday with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices allowing him to raise money.
The Republican told The Associated Press that while his job has kept him away from the state for most of his professional life, he has kept a Montana driver’s license and local voter registration over the years. He currently owns a home in Helena, where he grew up, although his business keeps him traveling around the world out of his office in Washington.
“I’ve made my living all over the world for many years,” Livingstone said in a telephone interview. “I want to bring that experience and expertise back to the state.”
Several other well-known Montana Republicans are in the race, including former Congressman Rick Hill and former state Sens. Corey Stapleton and Ken Miller.
Hill spokesman Chuck Denowh said Montana Republican voters are looking for solutions to the state’s problems.
“No one can match Rick Hill’s record of delivering for Montana,” he said. “There really is a differentiation there. Livingstone has an impressive resume, but I don’t see he has a lot of applicable experience to be a governor.”
Livingstone has launched a website that talks about his Montana roots and growing up in Helena before going on to work primarily as a security analyst and consultant in more than 60 countries.
He currently runs a company called ExecutiveAction, which says it is a “private CIA and Defense Department” that helps companies around the world solve difficult problems.
While he’s appeared as a commentator on TV news programs that include NBC’s “Meet the Press” and “The O’Reilly Report” on Fox, he clearly has ground to make up in introducing himself to Montanans.
It’s uncertain how Livingstone fits in the crowded GOP primary. He describes himself as a “Reaganite” conservative who will focus on economic issues, and said he shares the tea party concerns on fiscal issues.
Like other Republicans, Livingstone said he thinks the federal health care reform law will be too expensive for Montana. He said medical marijuana, a hot issue in the state Legislature right now, needs to be strictly controlled if it remains legal. More stringent regulation is one of the options lawmakers are currently considering, as is outright repeal.
But Livingstone said he will focus on the economy in his race. He said he will introduce a “novel” approach to spurring natural resource industries like oil — an issue his GOP rivals also say they will focus on in their campaigns.
“I want all Montanans to benefit from the development of our resources,” Livingstone said. “I have a plan that I will be releasing to not only have environmentally sound development of our natural resources, I am going to see that every Montanan benefits from the development of our natural resources.”
Livingstone said his job will still keep him in Washington D.C. a lot, but he expects to spend more time in the state campaigning.
“I am going to come in there and talk to Montanans about their problems and their needs and what they want to see out of the governorship,” Livingstone said. “If people think I spent too much time gaining experience overseas, then so be it.”
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