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Democrat Bullock taps former Montana adjutant general for lieutenant governor

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John Walsh

John Walsh

HELENA – Democratic governor candidate Steve Bullock said he chose Brig. Gen. John Walsh as his running mate because he wants a lieutenant governor who knows “how to overcome obstacles, put ideological differences aside and get things done for the state that we love.”

Bullock, the state’s attorney general, announced his selection of Walsh at a news conference at Great Falls International Airport on Thursday.

“I’m lucky to have an experienced leader like him by my side, and I feel lucky that Montana has people as dedicated to our future as John,” Bullock said in his speech.

Walsh resigned earlier this week as Montana’s adjutant general overseeing the Montana National Guard to join Bullock’s ticket.

“I’ve served on many missions, including leading some of the finest men and women this state has to offer into combat,” Walsh said. “Today, I’m embarking on a new mission. I know it won’t be easy, but important ones rarely are.”

At present, Bullock and Walsh are the only Democratic team in the governor’s race, but they have not officially filed yet, while five of the seven announced Republican candidates have done so. The filing deadline is Monday.

Term limits prevent Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, from seeking a third term.

Walsh, 51, is a Butte native who has served in the Montana National Guard since 1979, working his way up from an enlisted man to a brigadier general. He commanded a 750-soldier infantry battalion in Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Bullock praised Walsh’s leadership, saying the two men had worked together in recent years on educating military families about scams by con artists targeting them.

Because of Walsh’s leadership, the Montana National Guard “is maintaining an unprecedented level of readiness – prepared to be called upon to defend our country and our freedom,” Bullock said.

If elected, Walsh said he and Bullock as a team would work across party lines to improve schools, help small businesses create jobs and expand opportunities for young Montanans, particularly those who have returned after serving their country overseas.

The running mate said he’s wants to make sure that the state and nation fulfill the promise made to the 120,000 veterans in Montana so they have “access to world-class health care and benefits.”

Walsh will remain a brigadier general serving in the Montana National Guard at weekend drills monthly and summer camp.

A Butte High School graduate, Walsh studied at Carroll College and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York in 1990. He obtained a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2007.

Walsh and his wife, Janet, a para-educator, have been married 27 years and are longtime Helena residents. They have two sons, Michael, a pilot with the National Guard on duty in Kuwait, and Taylor, who is pursuing an acting career in New York.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Charles S. Johnson can be reached at (406) 447-4066 or at chuck.johnson@lee.net.

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