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Bishop drops out of congressional race for new western district

Democratic state Rep. Laurie Bishop

Democratic state Rep. Laurie Bishop poses for a photo inside the Montana State Capitol.

Rep. Laurie Bishop, a Democratic state lawmaker from Livingston, announced Wednesday she's dropping out of the race for Montana's new western congressional seat.

In an emailed statement from her campaign and a two-minute video posted to YouTube, Bishop said the state's new congressional district borders — which were finalized Monday and placed Livingston outside the district she was running to represent — played a part in her decision. Congressional candidates aren't required to live within their districts, only within their states.

"I know I'm not alone as a Democrat in Montana when I think about how disappointing the last week has been, as we’ve seen the final answer of our congressional map," Bishop said in the video. "Certainly here in Park County we’ve had to navigate our own sadness about being separated away from our community of interest, but there are also consequences of this map that I think we are feeling all across the state."

The final map, which must still be certified by the Secretary of State, was opposed by Democrats on the state's Districting and Apportionment Commission. After the two Democrats and two Republicans failed to agree on a line dividing the two districts, the commission's nonpartisan chair cast her tie-breaking vote for the one favored by Republicans.

Bishop said she will instead focus on continuing her work in the state House of Representatives.

She had also trailed the rest of the Democratic field in early fundraising as of the end of September, and her campaign had subsequently acknowledged a "slow start to fundraising" in the current quarter.

The three-term state representative announced her candidacy for the U.S. House in July. She was the first to join a field that includes at least six other candidates for Montana's District 1.

Democrats Cora Neumann, Monica Tranel and Tom Winter, along with Republicans Ryan Zinke, Al Olszewski and Mary Todd are all running to represent the new western district. Billings Democrat Skylar Williams and Helena Republican Charles Walking Child have recently filed candidate paperwork, but neither have made official announcements and it's not clear which district they intend to run in.

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