HELENA — Billings businessman Gary Buchanan will appear on the November ballot as an independent candidate for Montana's eastern congressional district.
The Montana Secretary of State's Office confirmed in a news release Wednesday that Buchanan had gathered the more than 8,700 signatures he needed to qualify for the general election.
When the secretary's office announced Buchanan had made it onto the ballot, he was in Helena preparing to celebrate his signature gatherers from Lewis and Clark County.
"They collected 5,000 signatures in this county and that’s a heck of a piece of work," Buchanan said. "So I’m buying the beer.”
In his career, Buchanan served about half a dozen governors, including Republican Gov. Marc Racicot. Racicot endorsed Buchanan alongside Democrat Dorothy Bradley, who opposed Racicot in Montana’s 1992 gubernatorial election.
People are souring on the major parties because of the partisan bickering, Buchanan told MTN News in May. About 42% of Americans identify as independent, according to an April 2022 Gallup survey However, some analysis shows the unwillingness to identify with a party is more about avoiding stigma.
"If you’re tired of name calling and politicians beating up on each other, tired of party politics," Buchanan said Wednesday. "I’m your man."
The race for Montana's eastern congressional district is now a four-person contest between Independent Buchanan, Republican nominee U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale, Democratic candidate Penny Ronning and Libertarian candidate Sam Rankin.
Montana gained the additional U.S. house district after 30 years as a single statewide district. The new eastern congressional district includes the cities of Billings, Glendive, Great Falls, Helena and Miles City.
Buchanan is based out of Billings and he addressed the spring floods, which have created a statewide disaster for Montana.
"We’ll start out tonight’s events with a little prayer for Red Lodge and Columbus and Absarokee," Buchanan said. "It’s just tragic what’s going on."
Editor's Note: This story was updated with comments from Buchanan.