Montana’s Republican Secretary of State, Corey Stapleton, is the first to officially declare that he is running for Governor of the State of Montana.

Current Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is term-limited out, and has been exploring a possible run for the 2020 Presidential nomination.

Stapleton, the only veteran out of 17 elected state officials, says his experience as a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and as Secretary of State has prepared him for the governor’s office.

“When you have the day-to-day operations for the responsibility of people’s livelihoods as state employees, and that’s similar,” said Stapleton. “You’re not here for profit and you’re not here for personal gain, and I think all of us who have been elected to statewide office share that view.”

Stapleton said decisions at the state-wide level can have far reaching consequences.

Once or twice a day you have to make an important decision that’s not always comfortable, and sometimes there may be repercussions, and people may not be happy with you,” he said. “Sometimes you even get sued, and I’ve been sued four times since I’ve gotten here. You’re working with the media where you can do ten things right and they’ll never write a story about it, but you do one thing wrong and they’ll tell the whole world about it.”

Stapleton said he has had a chance to see Governor Bullock working up close and personal, and there are things he admires.

“In some ways I admire our current governor and his demeanor,” he said. “I watch him on the Land Board where he’s outnumbered and with the legislature where he’s outnumbered and even when he can’t get his initiatives passed there’s still a calmness about him that I think would be an asset to have.”

Stapleton said he has learned important lessons from every governor he has served under, from Judy Martz to Brian Schweitzer to Steve Bullock.

“It’s a great opportunity for Republicans in the first time in a generation to win the seat,” he said. Not since Judy Martz, and that was more than 20 years ago.”

Stapleton did commit to appearing on Talk Back to speak directly to the citizens of Montana as often as his schedule would allow, should he be elected in 2020.