HELENA – Eight legislative candidates did not file their required business disclosures and have been removed from the ballot, eliminating five contested primary races and leaving two Democratic candidates without Republican opponents in November’s general election.
State law requires candidates who missed Tuesday’s disclosure deadline to be taken off the ballot, Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said. The commissioner forwarded the names to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, who removed them from her candidate list.
Candidates are required to file disclosure statements with Motl’s office that lists their business interests, property and past and present companies from which they receive benefits.
Four of the removed candidates were Republicans: Sebastien Guilhemotonia for House District 94, Billie Love for House District 61, David August for House District 98 and James Davis for House District 77.
Guilhemotonia and Davis were the only Republicans running in their races, leaving the Democratic candidates with no opponents in the general election.
Those districts, one north of Missoula and the other covering Drummond, Anaconda and Philipsburg, are heavily Democratic districts, said Sen. Ed Walker, head of the Republican Party’s legislative campaign committee.
“I don’t think it’s going to change much for the elections. But it is the candidates’ responsibility to comply with the law,” Walker said.
Love’s and August’s removals leave one Republican candidate in each of those races.
The four other removed candidates had filed as Democrats: Harry Pennington for Senate District 32, Laura Springer for House District 63, Roxanne Brothers for House District 7 and Steve Gray for House District 55.
Democratic Party officials said two of the removed candidates, Pennington and Springer, were conservatives who filed as Democrats in an effort disrupt June’s primary elections.
“It’s a good thing when voters have a clear choice between Republicans running as Republicans and Democrats running as Democrats,” said Lauren Caldwell, the party’s legislative campaign committee chairwoman.
Springer said Wednesday she had planned to drop out because her father died and she was in Texas seeing to his estate. She previously said she was “between homes” and living in a motel, while Pennington was homeless and unable to afford a phone.
Brothers and Gray decided not to run when they learned other Democratic candidates were already in those races, Caldwell said.