HELENA — A Wilsall-area rancher and political unknown said Wednesday he’s running for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat, becoming the first Democrat to get into the race.
Dirk Adams, 62, who has ranched in the Shields River Valley since 1984, said he decided about a month ago to get into the race and is assembling a campaign organization. It’s his first run for political office.
Adams declined to say yet why he’s running or how he plans to introduce himself to Montana voters.
Adams spoke from a cellphone while working his ranch Wednesday afternoon, and said he’d rather wait until later to explain and outline his candidacy. He has a campaign website, still under construction, that says more jobs should be “made in America” and that ‘working’ and ‘poor’ “should not be words that appear together.”
Adams is the first Democrat to declare himself a candidate for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who announced in March that he won’t run for re-election next year.
Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, state Auditor Monica Lindeen and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, all Democrats, have turned down the chance to run for the office.
National Republicans are eyeing the Montana seat as a prime opportunity to pick up a seat in their quest to win party control of the U.S. Senate in 2014.
Two Republicans already are in the race: Former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings and state Rep. Champ Edmunds of Missoula.
U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is considering whether he’ll run for the Baucus seat, but hasn’t said if he’s decided yet.
Adams was born in Nebraska and grew up in Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in education. He earned his law degree from Harvard University in 1976.
Adams said he spent time in Montana and the mountain West with his family as a child and has called Montana home since the early 1980s. He said he taught business law and other business courses at the University of Montana in 1979 and 1980 and at Montana State University in Bozeman from 2001-2003.
He said he’s worked in a New York law firm from 1976-1983 and has worked as a bank officer and general counsel for banks in San Francisco.
Adams said he’s been a Democrat his whole life and comes from a strong Democratic family.
In addition to being a rancher, Adams owns the Wilsall General Store and is on the board of the Montana Stock Growers Association’s Research, Education and Endowment Foundation.