HELENA — Heather Margolis, a Helena woman who works in the nonprofit field, is the other Democrat running for governor besides Attorney General Steve Bullock.

She filed Monday, the deadline for office-seekers to pay their money to appear on the ballot, with Steve Nelsen as her running mate.

Her last-minute candidacy ensures that Bullock will have a primary competitor and thus not have to refund tens of thousands of dollars of campaign donations. Without a primary opponent, Bullock would have had to forfeit some money.

Margolis denied that she was a candidate put up by the Democratic Party or Bullock so he would not have to refund campaign donations.

Of her candidacy, Margolis said, “It was one of those things that we’ve been talking about and joking about.” She said there was “a clear decisive moment” last week when she decided to run.

She was asked about her husband, Tim Warner, a former spokesman for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus and later Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana who now runs a consulting firm in Helena, donating $600 to Bullock’s governor’s campaign, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

She didn’t answer the question but instead talked about Bullock.

“Steve’s not a bad guy,” Margolis said. “They’re nice people. I have an issue that I really care about. If I’d seen Steve be more vocal on the issue of service, civic engagement and volunteers, I might not have filed.”

As for her campaign plans, she said, “I want to get out and engage those people who feel they have been disengaged.”

Bullock had about nearly $440,000 in cash left in the bank in his campaign as of March 5, including more than $334,000 for the primary.

Asked how she intended to compete against an opponent with that much money, Margolis said, “To be honest, I’ve worked on service projects kind of all over the country. We never had the budget we wanted. I’ve worked on mean, lean campaigns.”

She suggested her campaign would fall in that category.

Margolis said she would welcome any debates or forums against Bullock. One has been scheduled for Butte in early April, she said.

She has nearly two decades of experience working in the field of education, national service and volunteerism, while Nelsen has been involved in youth programs and community service for decades.

Margolis is executive director of the Montana Education Partnership in Helena and serves as the ServeNext representative for the state of Montana, advocating for the expansion of national service programs in the nation and state.

She is 38 and the mother of two sons.


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