HELENA, Mont. (AP) — It didn’t take long for the fallout to begin after Gov. Steve Bullock announced he was going to seek the Democratic nomination in Montana’s U.S. Senate race to challenge Republican Steve Daines.
Three candidates from Bozeman, including fundraising leader Cora Neumann, withdrew from the race saying Bullock offered the best chance to defeat Daines.
Neumann, who had raised $650,000 during her five-month campaign, withdrew from the race Monday morning.
“I know that what matters most is that we come together in the effort to beat Senator Steve Daines,” Neumann said in a statement. “That is why I am withdrawing from the Senate race and throwing my support behind Governor Steve Bullock.”
Mike Knoles, a physicist and mathematician, tweeted Monday morning that he, too, was dropping out.
“This race is too important to let my ego dictate decisions,” Knoles said. Steve Daines “must go, and I will do everything I can to make sure we #FlipTheSenate.”
Knoles added that if Bullock “wants my endorsement, feel free to reach out to me.”
Last week as speculation grew that Bullock was considering a run, Democrat Josh Seckinger of Bozeman said he was ending his 16-day campaign to endorse Bullock.
The other Democratic candidates are Liberian refugee and Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins and Navy veteran and energy field engineer John Mues of Loma. Collins said Monday morning he was still a candidate. Mues could not be reached for comment.
After the Green Party qualified for the ballot on Friday, Wendie Fredrickson of Helena filed for the Senate race.
Daniel Larson, a hardware store manager from Stevensville, and John Brian Driscoll of Helena, have filed to challenge Daines in the Republican primary.
Libertarian Eric Fulton of Whitefish filed last Thursday.
The deadline to file for the June primary is 5 p.m. Monday.