News broke over the weekend that Vice President Mike Pence had abruptly canceled an appearance at a Sept. 14 fundraiser in Bozeman shortly after revelations emerged about the event’s hosts. However, according to the Associated Press, Pence still planned to attend a campaign rally in Belgrade along with U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and several other Republican 2020 candidates.

Daines continues to face stiff competition from Democratic challenger Gov. Steve Bullock, with yet another poll, released last Friday, showing the two locked in an extremely tight race. The Republican incumbent made a short appearance on KGVO Montana Morning News Friday to offer an update on his latest legislative undertaking. Bullock meanwhile spent last Wednesday touring the Bridger Foothills Fire and visiting with a 94-year-old veteran about his memories of fighting in World War II.

The entire cadre of statewide Democratic contenders, Bullock included, took to Zoom to detail their respective priorities in a virtual political rally hosted for voters in Hill County. Gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney dedicated much of his portion of the event to criticizing Republican rival Greg Gianforte, but shifted gears later in the week to focus on the rollout of his plan to increase health care access for military veterans. Gianforte followed the campaign trail to the Hi-Line as well, holding a Wednesday roundtable to discuss a particular irrigation issue that’s become central to his message for north-central Montana voters.

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Lawsuits pile up as inquiry into fatal Amtrak wreck continues

Three weeks after Amtrak’s Empire Builder derailed along a remote stretch of track on Montana’s Hi-Line, killing three and injuring scores more, a dozen lawsuits have been filed by passengers injured in the deadliest railroad accident in the United States since 2017. But those lawsuits might run into trouble because of a never-before-tested clause recently…

Fire season 2021: Early to start, late to finish, and smoky in the middle

The state’s first major winter storm dropped snow on parts of southern Montana early this week, signaling the final act of an active fire season that had prompted Gov. Greg Gianforte to issue a wildfire emergency declaration in July and mobilize hundreds of National Guard troops to assist in suppression efforts. 

Building on soil in Big Sandy

In Big Sandy, farmers are adding value to their operations by investing in soil health, reinvigorating both their farms and the rural communities that depend on them.

The latest televised debate from MTN News on Sunday featured a tense showdown between the two candidates for secretary of state. Democrat Bryce Bennett and Republican Christi Jacobsen made quite a contrast, with one promising to fix an office plagued by corruption and the other trumpeting recent efforts to downsize and streamline its operations. And Lee Enterprises’ Holly Michels gave feature treatment to the similarly heated contest for attorney general, including an examination of where the two candidates stand on the current nationwide debate over law enforcement.

Last but not least, the Missoula Current turned its eye Sept. 11 to the often-overlooked race for a seat on the Montana Public Service Commission. This particular piece profiled Democrat Monica Tranel, offering insight into how the spectacle of a single commission meeting convinced the Missoula attorney to throw her hat in the political ring.

See a full archive of statewide media coverage of Montana candidates — plus fundraising numbers, a voting FAQ, and candidate responses to primary questionnaires — at MTFP’s 2020 Election Guide.

Staff reporter Alex Sakariassen covers the education beat and the state Legislature for Montana Free Press. Alex spent the past decade writing long-form narrative stories that spotlight the people, the politics, and the wilds of Montana. A North Dakota native, he splits his free time between Missoula’s ski slopes and the quiet trout water of the Rocky Mountain Front. Contact Alex by email at