Montana governor candidate Neil Livingstone has tapped state Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, as his running mate for the upcoming 2012 election.
Livingstone, a Republican, told the Pilot he and Zinke are focused on the same goal — job creation — and that they’ll make a strong team.
“Ryan is intelligent, has a ton of energy and is a terrific state senator,” he said.
He expects Zinke will lead education talks during the campaign, and together they will push their pro-jobs platform.
“Ryan and I will run hard,” Livingstone said. “We will try and shake every hand we can in Montana.”
Livingstone was raised in Helena. He is a third-generation Montanan with three master’s degrees, one from the University of Montana-Missoula, and a Ph.D. from Tufts University.
Livingstone works in business management and is the author of nine books. He has made more than 1,500 TV appearances commenting on homeland security, international business and intelligence.
Zinke was raised in Whitefish and graduated from Whitefish High School in 1980. He served with the U.S. Navy from 1985-2008 and was a mission commander of SEAL Team Six.
Zinke was elected to the Montana Senate in 2008.
Livingstone says the focus of their campaign is job creation and the state’s economy, which he says is falling short of its potential.
He says Whitefish’s economy is an anomaly in the state and that it hasn’t been hit as hard as other places.
“Whitefish is still prosperous,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t areas for improvement.”
He says Montana has a great “brand” and that it’s being undersold.
“We don’t sell that brand effectively enough,” he said. “Especially with Montana beef, and not enough with tourism.”
He would like to see tourism-based areas like Whitefish compliment their economy with more high-tech jobs.
One of his plans, if elected, is to make Montana the first all wi-fi state, which will help businesses prosper, he said.
Livingstone and Zinke will be in Whitefish today for a fundraising event. “Better Jobs, Better Education, Better Future” is the theme for the event that starts at 6 p.m. at the Whitefish Lake Lodge.
Four other Republicans have filed to run for governor, while only one Democrat as filed.
• Rick Hill, a retired insurance company executive in Helena, was elected to the U.S. House in 1996, where he worked on reforming welfare, cutting taxes and balancing budgets and opposed the Clinton administration’s plan to stop snowmobiling in Yellowstone Park and the reintroduction of grizzly bears and wolves in Montana.
• Ken Miller was raised on farms in Colorado and Montana and started several businesses in Laurel before being elected to two consecutive terms in the Montana Senate in 1995. A social conservative who served as Montana Republican Party chairman from 2001-2003, Miller finished in third place in a four-way Republican primary race for governor in 2004.
• Corey Stapleton, a fourth-generation Montanan who grew up in Great Fall and spent a decade with the Navy’s nuclear program, has a master’s in political science from Temple University. Elected to the Montana Senate in 2000 and 2004, Stapleton currently works as a financial advisor in Billings.
• Jim O’Hara is a Fort Benton native and has been a Chouteau County commissioner for 10 years.
• Larry Jent represented Bozeman in the Montana House from 2001-2006 and has been in the Montana Senate since 2007. He unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. House in 1996. He works as a lawyer in Bozeman.