Democrat Busse and running mate Graybill file Montana gubernatorial ticket

Posted at 5:38 PM, Feb 20, 2024

HELENA — Former firearms executive Ryan Busse, a Democrat from Kalispell, officially filed his campaign for governor Tuesday morning – a day after introducing his candidate for lieutenant governor, attorney Raph Graybill.

Joined by their families, Busse and Graybill filled out paperwork at the Secretary of State’s Office in Helena. In Montana, a candidate for governor can’t officially file to get on the ballot without including a running mate.

Busse, an author and activist, told MTN he considered a wide range of potential running mates – including some Republicans. He said Graybill reached out to him early in the campaign wanting to help, and he continued to rise to the top of the list of potential candidates.

Busse pointed to Graybill’s work on constitutional challenges against laws passed by the Republican majority in the Montana Legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte – with a record of successful cases so far.

“If we believe our state's really facing the perils that it is, I want the sharpest constitutional sword we can get, and that's Raph Graybill,” Busse said.

Graybill, originally from Great Falls, was chief legal counsel for former Gov. Steve Bullock. In 2020, he ran as the Democratic nominee for attorney general, losing to Republican Austin Knudsen. Since then, he’s represented groups like Planned Parenthood of Montana and the Montana Public Interest Research Group in lawsuits over bills they believe are unconstitutional.

“I've been part of fighting back for Montana's constitutional rights in the courts, and Ryan and I are going to work our tails off to make sure that these egregious property tax increases that we're all paying don't happen again,” Graybill told MTN Tuesday.

Busse says he believes this ticket can make a case to voters, regardless of their party affiliation.

“Raph stands with me to stand for working people in this state, not for the people who are trying to turn it into a playground for billionaires – again, nothing partisan about that, I hear from Republicans and Democrats all across the state,” he said. “We're perfectly aligned.”

Busse and Graybill were the first gubernatorial ticket to file with the Secretary of State this year. Though Gianforte hasn’t officially filed for reelection, he’s already announced he plans to run, with Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras again as his running mate.

Busse first introduced Graybill Monday evening at an event in Pablo. Immediately after filing, the two candidates began a joint campaign tour, with eight planned appearances over four days in cities across Montana.

The Montana Republican Party released a statement Tuesday in response to the Democrats’ filing, calling Busse a “gun grabber.”

“Liberal lawyer Raph Graybill has spent his entire career appeasing to the far-left,” party chair “Don K” Kaltschmidt said. “Montana voters have already rejected him when he lost his bid for Attorney General in 2020 by 17 points and they will reject him again in 2024."