A filing mishap has prematurely ended a Republican candidate’s bid for a seat in the Montana House of Representatives.
Neal Ganser, a Republican, filed to run for House District 66 in early March. Ganser said that his first financial filing, which was due March 22 to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, was not certified and signed properly in the state agency’s systems by the deadline.
That issue caused his candidacy to come to an early end.
The misstep has left political newcomer Eric Matthews, a Democrat, as the lone candidate for that district unless the Gallatin County Republican Central Committee nominates a replacement for Ganser. The committee can do so up to 76 days before the general election.
Matthews said he plans to continue campaigning and knocking on doors.
“All that still needs to be done. I’m not taking this for granted,” Matthews said.
Ganser, who previously ran for HD 61 in 2016, said that the commissioner’s office was having system issues during the weekend he submitted his financial report. He said that when the office saw his incomplete report they reached out to correct it.
Jeff Mangan, the commissioner of political practices, said that he emailed Ganser and left a detailed message with him on how to get his report on track.
Mangan said that every year there are a handful of candidates who miss a report. He said that his office spends time contacting candidates and party leaders to ensure all filings are in on time.
Ganser said he was busy, and shouldered the blame for not getting the report corrected.
“Maybe I just wasn’t meant to run, I don’t know,” Ganser said.
Ganser was not the only Republican candidate running for a legislative seat in Gallatin County to exit before the primary. Kyle Voigtlander dropped out of the race for House District 63 before the financial filing deadline in late March.
Voigtlander said that he resigned because he had personal issues he had to deal with.
Catherine Purcell is now running as the Republican for that seat in an uncontested primary. Purcell will face off against incumbent Rep. Alice Buckley, D-Bozeman, in November.
Purcell did not immediately return a request for comment.
State law allows for county political central committees to nominate a candidate if there is still a vacancy after a primary election. In this situation, the Gallatin County Republican Central Committee would be responsible for nominating a new candidate.
“We’d have to address that locally,” Ganser said. “We’re trying to think of who might be able and willing to run because we do need a candidate there.”
Whether the Gallatin County Republican Central Committee is working to find a replacement for Ganser is unclear. Rep. Jane Gillette, R-Bozeman, who is seeking reelection in HD 64, is the chair of the committee. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.