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Busse and Gianforte win their respective primary races

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Posted at 8:59 PM, Jun 04, 2024

HELENA — Former firearms executive Ryan Busse of Kalispell has been called as the winner in Montana's Democratic primary for governor by Decision Desk.

Busse faced Helena attorney Jim Hunt in the primary and won with more than 77 percent of the vote as of 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4.

Ryan Busse

Busse launched his campaign in September 2023, criticizing Republican Governor Greg Gianforte on issues such as property taxes, abortion rights, and public schools, and he accused the governor of turning Montana into a “playground” for the rich.

Busse was formerly a vice president of sales for the firearm company Kimber America. He received national media attention for his 2021 book “Gunfight,” in which he criticized what he called “radicalization” in the firearms industry.

Jim Hunt told MTN News when he filed to run in the Democratic primary in March that he didn’t have strong objections to Busse, but he decided to put himself forward for the position because he was frustrated with Gianforte’s record and he thought two voices were better than one.

Busse and his running mate, attorney Raph Graybill will face incumbent Gianforte in the governor's race in November.

Incumbent Governor Greg Gianforte has been called as the winner in the Republican primary for Montana governor by Decision Desk.

Gianforte fended off a primary challenge from first-term State Rep. Tanner Smith, R-Lakeside with more than 77% percent of votes as of 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, June 4.

Greg Gianforte.jpg
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Gianforte, a former tech-industry entrepreneur from Bozeman, served one term as Montana's U.S. House Representative and was elected as governor in 2020.

Smith said he decided to run for governor a few weeks into the 2023 legislative session, saying he believed Gianforte hadn’t governed as a true conservative.

Gianforte says he will once again be joined on the ticket by Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras, an attorney from Great Falls.