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The non-candidate

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Steve Daines swears he’s not planning on running for political office.

Daines, vice president of Bozeman-based RightNow Technologies, launched GiveItBack.com in April as part of a campaign to urge the Montana Legislature and Gov. Brian Schweitzer to give every Montana income tax payer a check for $1,000. Daines says he was tired of watching the endless debate in Helena over what to do with the state’s estimated $1 billion surplus, so he came up with a proposed solution: “Give it back.”

According to one Republican insider, Daines has, “stumbled onto a fairly decent message,” that could, “help him win the Republican nomination,” and challenge Schweitzer in 2008.

“[GiveItBack.com] is being treated by many Republicans as a ‘I’m running for governor’ message from Steve Daines,” said the source, who didn’t want to be named speculating about political campaigns.

Daines, who returned a call to the Independent while traveling out of state on business, says his only interest is in “doing what’s right for Montana,” and while he won’t rule out a run for the governor’s office, he insists that’s not his motivation behind the website.

“You know, my aspirations are to do what’s right in dealing with this surplus,” Daines says. “I’m just trying to connect to regular Montanans to get a significant portion of this money returned to the people who made it happen, which are the
taxpayers.”

Daines admits that he’s been contacted by “friends on both sides” and urged to run for office, but he says, “that’s a long way” from where he’s at now.

“I’m a father of four. I’ve got a job where we’ve generated 350 jobs in the state of Montana with an average salary of $70,000. Nothing thrills me more as a fifth generation Montanan than to generate jobs,” he says.

Despite his denials, Daines’ message and style has some Republicans excited. Says the source: “He’s obviously an outsider and none of us know him, but he’s going to have money and he seems like he could be a legitimate challenger.”

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