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Rick Hill Announces Jon Sonju as Gubernatorial Running Mate
Selected for business and government experience
Former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, left, announces Jon Sonju, right, as his running mate in the 2012 governor race during a press conference in Kalispell. - Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
At a Wednesday morning gathering attended by prominent Flathead business officials and legislators in downtown Kalispell, Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Rick Hill introduced state Sen. Jon Sonju as his lieutenant governor running mate.

In an interview after the announcement, Hill said Sonju of Kalispell emerged as “clearly the best choice” due to his experience in both private business and government. Sonju has served as a state senator and representative, while helping manage Sonju Industrial, his family’s successful aerospace manufacturing company.

“Jon’s background and experience as a business leader and community leader and legislative leader – we’re going to need that once we get there,” Hill said.

If he were to win November’s election, Hill made clear he expects Sonju to play a more active role in the governor’s office than is usually perceived of lieutenant governors. Hill said he would put Sonju in control of the governor’s economic development office, a move that he acknowledged was unusual.

“This is new,” he said. “This is going to be a real job (for Sonju.)”

Hill has been leading polls by a healthy margin in a crowded Republican gubernatorial primary field. There are now eight announced candidates following Drew Turiano’s announcement earlier this week that he has dropped out of the race and is instead seeking the secretary of state’s office.

Polls show Hill neck and neck with Democratic favorite Steve Bullock in a head-to-head showdown. Hill is a former U.S. Congressman.

On Wednesday, Sonju told the audience that Helena needs “an attitude adjustment,” one in which the government begins to foster a more business-friendly environment and understands that the “real problem solvers are the thousands of small business owners that are the economic engine of Montana.”

“It’s time Helena understands it’s not their money, it’s your money,” Sonju said.
On 01-18-12, Patriot Man commented....
What do you know!!  Three lieutenant governor candidates from the Flathead Valley, Zinke, Sonju, and Baldwin.  Maybe we can get them together for a debate.  A military hero/politician, a small businessman/politician, and a constitutional scholar/pastor. If we want positive change and a politically uninfluenced lieutenant governor…
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