- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A former state senator has entered the race to become Montana’s next secretary of state.

Corey Stapleton announced Wednesday that he’ll seek the Republican nomination for Montana’s top elections official in 2016.

The Billings financial adviser served in the Montana Senate from 2000 to 2008. He was the Senate minority leader in 2007 when lawmakers failed to pass a budget for the first time in recent memory, forcing a special session.

Stapleton lost the 2012 Republican gubernatorial primary to former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill. He lost the 2014 primary for the state’s U.S. House seat to Rep. Ryan Zinke.

Montana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Essmann praised Stapleton as a “trusted conservative leader.” Republican officials said Essmann’s comments are not an endorsement of Stapleton’s candidacy.

State Auditor Monica Lindeen is seeking the Democratic nomination.

Democratic Secretary of State Linda McCulloch can’t run again due to term limits.

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