- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Gov. Steve Bullock picked up a primary challenger Friday for the June 7 elections, a former Democratic legislator who donated to the governor’s re-election campaign before deciding to run against him.

Bill McChesney, a former Miles City representative, filed his paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office late Friday, ahead of Monday’s candidate filing deadline. He lists Mike Anderson as his running mate.

McChesney, 67, served in the state House from 2007 to 2015. He lost a 2014 election for state Senate to Republican Eric Moore.

McChesney donated $50 this year to Bullock’s re-election campaign, according to records from the state Commissioner of Political Practice’s office. He also donated $150 to Bullock’s 2012 campaign.

McChesney did not immediately return a call for comment.



McChesney’s entry into the race allows Bullock to spend $666,642 in campaign contributions he has in the bank earmarked for the primary. He has already spent nearly $136,000 in campaign funds meant for the primary election.

State law requires candidates to return the money if they run unopposed.

“Steve welcomes others into the race and looks forward to earning the nomination and then a second term so he can continue to move Montana forward,” Bullock campaign manager Eric Hyers said in a statement.

Bullock’s campaign has been singularly focused on defeating Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate and Bozeman tech entrepreneur, in November’s general election. Gianforte does not have a primary opponent.

“Who knows if he’s waging a serious campaign? We’ll have to see in the weeks and months ahead,” said Aaron Flint, Gianforte’s campaign spokesman, said of McChesney.

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