Lakeside Rep. Tanner Smith to Run for Governor

The freshman Montana legislator unveiled his campaign on Tuesday morning, becoming the first contender to publicly announce a run for the governorship

By Denali Sagner
Tanner Smith, a Republican, currently represents Montana's House District 11 in Lakeside. Courtesy photo

State Rep. Tanner Smith, R-Lakeside, a freshman legislator in the Montana House of Representatives, announced on Tuesday morning that he will run for governor in 2024. 

Smith, the owner of a local construction business and a former trustee for Somers Lakeside School District 29, represents Lakeside, Somers and the area south of Kalispell in the Montana Legislature. He served on the taxation, transportation and fish, wildlife and parks committees in the House of Representatives during the legislative session.

In a Tuesday press release, Smith emphasized “the power of Montana values and our way of life,” such as “hard work, self-reliance, and respect for our natural wonders,” and said that he is “determined to preserve and restore these values, ensuring a brighter future for every Montana.”

During a crowded Republican primary last fall, Smith campaigned for a seat in the Montana House of Representatives on a platform that prioritized regulating marijuana dispensaries, mitigating wildfires, reconfiguring property tax policies to limit their burden on the elderly and strengthening crime policy.

Smith during the Legislative session was a vocal advocate for the regulation and control of the marijuana industry in Montana, introducing House Bill 265, which would have increased the mandatory distance between a new cannabis business and public spaces such as churches and schools from 500 feet to 1,000 feet. The bill was tabled in January by the House Human Services Committee.

According to the press release, Smith plans to campaign on combating crime; lowering taxes; advocating for “sustainable and diverse energy sources to drive Montana’s economy while protecting the environment – such as the preservation of water rights to safeguard this vital resource for future generations”; “providing quality education”; and “defending the rights and freedoms cherished by Montanans.”

Smith is the first contender to officially announce his candidacy for the governorship in 2024. Gov. Greg Gianforte has yet to publicly announce whether or not he will seek reelection.

Smith will attend the 4th of July Parade in Bigfork and the Lakeside Community Parade this summer, and will begin statewide meet and greet events in September.

“I recognize that people are tired of politics and politicians and summer is for working, playing and enjoying our families,” Smith said. “Being born and raised in Stevensville, I will plan to attend the Stevensville Creamery Picnic festivities in August and my 30-year high school reunion. Go Yellowjackets!”

More information can be found on Smith’s campaign website and Facebook page.

Correction: An earlier version of this article identified Smith as a trustee of the Somers Lakeside School District. Smith resigned from his trustee position in January 2023.