Rumblings in Montana's political community have surrounded a possible run for governor by Representative Greg Gianforte for months.
Tuesday afternoon we reached out to the Congressman's office about the buzz.
In a statement from a spokesman for Greg Gianforte; "Greg has received a lot of encouragement from Montanans about running for Governor. Greg’s considering how best he can use his executive experience and background in creating high-wage Montana jobs to best serve Montana, and he will announce his decision in the coming weeks."
We turned to a pair of local experts to see how the Congressman would fair if he does make a run at the governor's mansion.
MSU-Billings political science professor Paul Pope sees a very different race for Greg Gianforte than the one he ran in 2016.
"I think if Gianforte announces he is running for governor he'll probably immediately rocket up to the top position in the republican primary."
Pope points out that in 2016 Gianforte was a political newcomer but he still managed to capture more than 46% of votes cast while challenging then incumbent Steve Bullock.
Aaron Flint served as communications director for that campaign. He now serves as the “Montana Talks” radio host. And, while he is not willing to endorse any candidate he agrees with Pope's assessment that Gianforte would be a strong addition to an impressive field of candidates.
“He nearly pulled it off in 2016 against a seated incumbent as a guy who had never run for office before,” Says Flint. “So, he's got that going for him but on top of that he's now been on the ballot statewide a couple of different times and won as well. So has attorney general Tim Fox, so has Secretary of State Cory Stapleton who has also won statewide. So, you've got several big names who have won statewide elections all looking to jump into this Republican Primary which will make it one of the races to watch here in 2020."
And with all the buzz around the GOP, once the primary is over Paul Pope says it's anyone's guess as to who that person would face in the general election.
"Yeah right now I think it's the republicans race. Democrats don't have a clear heir apparent at this point. No one’s announced yet. A few of the people look like they might be the ones jumping into the race so far have not or they have declined the offer. So, the democrats have a bigger hill to climb than the republicans do in this primary season."
If Congressman Gianforte were to give up his seat in Washington D.C., that could open the door for democrats.
Kathleen Williams announced last month that she is running for congress again.
Williams had a strong showing in 2018. She finished with 46% of the vote. Gianforte held onto his seat with just under 51%.