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Olszewski second Republican in race for MT's new U.S. House seat

Will challenge Zinke in GOP primary
olszewski-al SB71.jpg
Posted at 3:40 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 17:40:56-04

HELENA — Another Republican is joining the 2022 race for Montana’s new congressional district – former state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell, who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year.

Olszewski said he’ll make his bid official Thursday evening, at a meeting of the Flathead Liberty Coalition in Kalispell.

“I am proud to have the highest lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union of any candidate in this race,” he said in a statement.

Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon, apparently will be challenging Republican former Congressman Ryan Zinke in the GOP primary for the new district, whose borders have yet to be drawn.

Zinke, who also was U.S. Interior secretary under former President Donald Trump, has already begun campaigning for the new seat.

Olszewski didn’t waste any time contrasting himself with Zinke, saying Zinke is a supporter of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Water Compact – which Olszewski opposes – and has relatively lower ratings from conservative groups.

Montana is gaining back a congressional district in 2022, giving the state two U.S. House districts – as it had for decades before losing one in the 1990 Census.

Earlier Thursday, state Rep. Laurie Bishop of Livingston became the first Democrat to jump into the contest for the new district.

Three other women also are considering running as Democrats for the seat: Cora Neumann, a health-policy expert from Bozeman who briefly ran for the U.S. Senate in 2020; Monica Tranel, an attorney from Missoula; and Whitney Williams, a Missoula businesswoman who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year.

A five-person commission will draw the new district boundaries by late fall. Montana’s only current congressman – Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale – is expected to run for re-election in one of the districts and the other seat will be open.

Olszewski said his conservative record makes him the “best fit” to join fellow “Trump conservative” Rosendale in Congress, and Montana’s team of U.S. House members.

Olszewski ran for governor last year, coming in third in a three-way Republican primary. He also ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2018, losing the GOP primary to Rosendale – who went on to lose against Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.