Friday, July 22, 2011

Legislature’s ex-top lawyer to run for U.S. House

DECISION 2012 copyThe Montana Legislature's former top attorney, Rob Stutz, said Friday he's considering running for the U.S. House.

"I was looking at legal issues and the amount of time that was spent trying to govern the people of Montana on legal issues and constitutional issues that really were already decided issues of law," Stutz said. "That was what motivated me to think I can work with the people and not get bogged down by a bunch of extremist procedural and fundamental legal issues procedural and settled legal issues."

Stutz, 38, resigned as the Legislature's chief legal counsel mid-session last March after fewer than nine months on the job.

Stutz gave no reason for his departure at the time. Susan Fox, executive director of the Legislative Services Division, said only that it had to do with a "personnel matter."

Stutz said in an interview Friday said that the legal work of the Legislature was completed after the transmittal break so he opted to take accrued leave time to consider running for Congress.

His term at the Legislature officially ended July 1, Stutz said.

"When the legal work was done for the session, I was done, and I've been looking into running for Congress since then," Stutz said.

Stutz said he's planning on running as a Democrat. He said his primary motivation for seeking the seat stemmed from "seeing the way the Constitution was treated during this last legislative session."

Stutz is the fourth Democrat to signal his interest to seek the party's nomination in June. Democratic state Sen. Kim Gillan of Billings, state Rep. Franke Wilmer of Bozeman, and Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier have already officially announced their campaign.

On the Republican side, presumed GOP frontrunner Steve Daines, who ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2008, is facing a challenge from John Abarr, a former Ku Klux Klan organizer from Great Falls.

Republican Denny Rehberg is giving up his post as Montana's lone Congressman to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, in what will be the marquee statewide political matchup in 2012.

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