- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A real estate broker from Billings says he will start gathering signatures for a possible campaign for U.S. Senate as an independent.

Sam Rankin needs the signatures of nearly 17,500 Montana voters by May 27 to qualify for the November ballot.

Rankin tells Lee Newspaper of Montana that he will know in a couple of months whether there is enough voter interest for an independent candidate.

Democratic candidate John Walsh was sworn in Tuesday as interim senator. U.S. Rep. Steve Daines is the Republican front-runner.

The 69-year-old Rankin came in fifth in the 2012 Democratic primary for Montana’s U.S. House seat.

Rankin says he believes campaign contributions amount to bribery, so he won’t take money from political-action committees or lobbyists.

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