A Republican primary is shaping up in Montana House District 33, where Joyce Stone, a Glasgow nurse, is challenging Casey Knudsen of Malta for re-election.
Both have filed papers with the Secretary of State’s office to run in the June 2 primary.
Knudsen seeks his third 2-year term in the submarine-shaped district that includes northern Blaine and Phillips counties, a small part of northern Hill Country and western Valley County, including half the city of Glasgow.
Knudsen was elected in 2016, defeating Democrat Michael Finley 3,562 to 1,058, after beating Michael Burns 1,356 to 819 in the Republican primary. Knudsen was unopposed in both primary and general elections in 2018.
The district is heavily Republican, and Knudsen has been a reliably conservative legislator in his time in the legislature.
Although he shares a last name with the representatives of House District 34, the other half of Senate District 17, he is no relation to Rep. Austin Knudsen, who served in the 2017 session, or Austin Knudsen’s mother, Rhonda Knudsen, who served in the 2019 session.
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Stone told The Havre Herald she was running because she wants to serve her neighbors in her adopted home in northeast Montana.
A nurse, she said she is especially interested in health care issues. She strongly favored the Medicaid expansion bill that the 2019 Montana Legislature adopted.
Knudsen voted against the bill.
She said Medicaid expansion is necessary because the health care of so many people depend on it and because it is important to the rural economy.
She is afraid that too many rural hospitals would close or be forced to reduce services if they don’t get the Medicaid expansion funds.
In the last legislative session, Stone also favored a bill that would enable daycare providers to require students to be vaccinated.
Knudsen opposed that.
Stone said she plans a vigorous campaign that will take her to throughout the district.
In the neighboring Senate District 16, state Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, has filed to succeed Sen. Frank Smith, D-Poplar.
Bridget Smith has served three terms in the House, usually voting with the majority in her caucus.
The district, which includes Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, the Fort Belknap Indian Community,
Fort Peck, and neighboring farms and ranches, is overwhelmingly Democratic.
In what may be a record for early announcement, state Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, said he will seek the same seat in 2024. He will have completed his maximum four consecutive terms in the House that year, but said he wants to continue his service in the Legislature. He served six years in the House and then eight years in the Senate, as he was elected in 2008 and 2012. He then moved back to the House.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment from Stone.
Email John Kellher at [email protected]