Montana 2020: Former state auditor considers bid for AG or Supreme Court

John Morrison, former state auditor

(KPAX) Helena attorney and former state auditor John Morrison is in the field with a poll, testing the political waters on whether he might run for Montana attorney general or state Supreme Court in 2020.

Morrison confirmed Tuesday that he arranged the poll, which is being conducted via text message, online and telephone.

“This is just a standard survey to see where we are out there,” he told MTN News. “People have talked to me about running for office again, and I am considering it.”

The poll asks respondents how they would vote in a Democratic primary for attorney general in 2020, if Morrison and the two declared candidates – state Rep. Kim Dudik of Missoula and Helena attorney Raph Graybill – are on the ballot.

It also matches Morrison against the only other declared 2020 Supreme Court candidate, Helena lawyer Mike Black, and asks respondents how they would vote.

Both the attorney general and Supreme Court seats are open next year, with no incumbent. Two Republicans also are running for attorney general.

In addition to testing matchups with Morrison against other candidates, the 10-page poll tests both positive and negative messages for or against Morrison and some of the other candidates.

For example, it refers to 2006 news coverage about an affair Morrison had with a woman whose husband later became a defendant in a securities-violation case when he was state auditor, who oversees the financial-services industry.

It cast Morrison’s role in the case in both a positive and negative light, and asked respondents whether it raised doubts about him as a candidate.

The poll also referred to Morrison’s record of expanding children’s health care coverage in Montana, fighting to preserve nurses’ benefits and helping Montanans get money owed under the Affordable Care Act.

Morrison was state auditor from 2001-2008 and ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2006. He lost in the Democratic primary to then-state Sen. Jon Tester, who went on to defeat Republican U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns that year.

Morrison comes from a political family. His father, Frank Morrison, was on the Montana Supreme Court and ran for governor in 1988, and his grandfather was governor of Nebraska in the 1960s.

Morrison is currently in private practice in Helena. He said he’s been busy with some complex cases “that are accomplishing some good things for Montana and the rest of the country.”