HELENA — Montana Senate Majority Leader Matthew Rosendale said Friday he will run for the open seat of state auditor in an election where he will face a Republican primary opponent and a well-funded Democratic candidate if he wins the nomination.
The Glendive Republican could have run for a second term representing Senate District 18, but decided instead to campaign for the statewide seat after being encouraged by GOP leaders, Rosendale said in a statement.
He joins former Republican state Rep. Champ Edmunds in seeking the Republican nomination for the position. Edmunds’ campaign has gotten off slowly, and he had just $386 in cash at the end of December.
By contrast, Democrat Jesse Laslovich, who is the auditor’s chief legal counsel, had more than $123,800 in the bank at the end of the year.
In his announcement, Rosendale appeared to be looking beyond the June 7 primary election by attempting to tie Laslovich to President Barack Obama.
“The citizens of Montana have the right to make their own choices when it comes to health care. The government should not be making those decisions for us. Under Obama/Laslovich, that is exactly what has happened,” Laslovich said.
The state auditor oversees insurance and securities in Montana. The current auditor, Democrat Monica Lindeen, is campaigning for secretary of state.
Laslovich campaign manager Brandon DeMars released a statement that did not directly address Rosendale’s entry in the race.
“Jesse will continue to travel the state listening to Montanans’ concerns, and running a campaign focused on finding common-sense solutions,” the statement said.
Edmunds immediately returned calls and emails for comment.
In 2014, Rosendale ran unsuccessfully for Montana’s U.S. House seat.
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