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Buchanan qualifies for U.S. House race as Independent

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Gary Buchanan, center, in tan shirt, greets people arriving at the One Legged Magpie in Red Lodge on Wednesday. Buchanan is among politicians vying to get on the ballot for the upcoming congressional race.

Independent U.S. House candidate Gary Buchanan has qualified for the general election in Montana's Eastern district. 

Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen confirmed Wednesday Buchanan had collected at least 8,722 signatures from qualified voters, the minimum necessary to make the November ballot. 

Buchanan volunteers had submitted 15,535 signatures, of which 13,638 were verified as acceptable by county elections offices in the district, which is anchored by Billings, Great Falls and Helena and extends to the North Dakota border.

Gary-Buchanan.jpg

Buchanan

Jacobsen's office must verify the signatures, as well. That work is being done now. 

Buchanan, a financial advisor and longtime public servant, filed as an Independent in March. He didn't appear on the primary election ballot since Independent candidates do not face a primary challenge, but his campaign spent the spring gathering qualifying signatures for the general ballot. 

"It turned out there were 428 signature gatherers. So, that's kind of an army," Buchanan said. "It's timely that I finally got certified because I'm having a celebration tonight in Helena. Lewis and Clark did 5,000 signatures," Buchanan said. "From here, my objective is to is to keep the 428 signature gatherers, and gather other volunteers and keep them motivated. We don't need signatures anymore. We're going to talk tonight about getting additional county coordinators and start raising money. We've got a hell of a lot in front of us."

There will be four candidates in Eastern Montana's U.S. House race, including Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale, Democrat Penny Ronning and Libertarian Sam Rankin. 

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