Essmann Drops Out of GOP Race for Montana Governor

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – State Sen. Jeff Essmann of Billings says he is dropping out of the crowded Republican primary.

Essmann sent a letter to supporters on Thursday saying Republicans need to be united in their financial support for the primary winner if they hope to defeat Steve Bullock, the Democratic attorney general running for governor.

The letter was released to the public on Friday.

Essmann says he had to evaluate whether his presence in race would detract from the party’s effort to reclaim the governor’s office.

Essmann’s departure leaves only a few GOP candidates with significant financial support, led by former congressman Rick Hill.

Essmann told campaign supporters he would return donations and turn his focus to helping elect Republicans and preparing for the 2013 legislative session.