HELENA - Montana's 2012 race for an open governor's seat is the most competitive in the nation, Politico says.
A national political news website based in Washington, D.C., Politico moved the Montana race up a spot from its previous rankings.
Its discussion about Montana quoted a Missoulian State Bureau column last weekend about how Attorney General Steve Bullock, a Democrat, said he is mulling his political future and is not saying yet if he's running for governor.
"But Democrats close to the race believe the state attorney general will turn the ignition key this summer, handing them their top recruit for one of the toughest seats they'll be defending next year," Politico said.
"If Bullock looks to be the presumptive nominee, expect Republicans to make President Barack Obama's health care law a central part of their argument against him. While outgoing Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently signed a bill that thumbs his nose at the individual mandate requirement, Bullock has declined to join a nationwide lawsuit challenging that provision."
While Bullock has called this lawsuit "much more about politics than it is about policy," Politico concluded: "Even if he's right, it's a question he'll be forced to field frequently in a gubernatorial contest."
The article made no mention of any other Montana candidates for governor.
Democrats who have announced for governor so far are state Sens. Larry Jent of Bozeman and Dave Wanzenried of Missoula.
Republicans who have entered the governor's race include former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill of Helena; Neil Livingstone of Helena; former state Sen. Ken Miller of Laurel; Chouteau County Commissioner James O'Hara; and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings.
Others who have filed the paperwork to run are Ronald Lassle of Helena, who didn't say which party label he was running on; Ron Vandevender, a Libertarian from Cascade, and Keith Winkler, a Republican from Billings.