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Supreme court justice, OPI chief first statewide

Missoula resident John Balyeat has filed to run for the House District 100 seat as a Republican.

Balyeat joined the roster of candidates filing for the 2004 election Monday, the opening day for contenders to sign up for the year's political races.

Balyeat is an attorney and former licensed real estate broker. This is his first run for political office. He is the brother of Rep. Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, who filed for the Senate District 34 seat on Monday.

Newly created House District 100 extends southwest of Blue Mountain Road and Big Flat Road, all the way to the Idaho border. It includes parts of Target Range, Frenchtown and Alberton. It also combines parts of former House districts 62 and 71, represented by Republicans Ray Hawk and Sylvia Bookout-Reinicke, respectively.

Among other candidate filings Monday were a pair of incumbents, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch and Supreme Court Justice John Warner.

McCulloch, a Democrat running for her second term, and Warner, seeking election to the high court after being appointed justice a year ago, were the only statewide candidates filing. They were joined by 41 legislative hopefuls, including 23 incumbents.

Also filing was Debbie Shea, a Democratic state senator running for the District 3 seat on the Public Service Commission. Shea is prevented from seeking re-election to the Senate because of term limits.

That PSC seat is held by Democrat Bob Rowe, who also is blocked from re-election by term limits.

Legislative incumbents filing Monday included 12 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Among those paying their $15 filing fee was Rollins Republican Janna Taylor, wife of state Sen. Mike Taylor, an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2002.

Three other House members, Democrats Kim Gillan of Billings and Larry Cyr of Butte and Republican John Brueggeman of Polson, filed in Senate races.

In paying her $804.25 filing fee, McCulloch stressed a continued emphasis on promoting reading skills and improving high school graduation rates among American Indian students.

With the state in the middle of a lawsuit over adequacy of education funding, McCulloch said her view is that Montana's schools need enough money to meet state accreditation standards and provide the variety of programs needed for both students with learning problems and those considered gifted.

McCulloch is a former legislator and school librarian from Bonner.

Warner, a former district judge from Havre, was appointed by Gov. Judy Martz to replace Justice Terry Trieweiler when he decided to resign midway through his eight-year term. Warner does not yet have an opponent in the nonpartisan race.

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