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Brad Johnson

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Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson.jpg
Montana Public Service Commissioner - District 5
In office
January 2015-present
Term ends
Years in position 0
Base salary$98,125
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Montana Secretary of State
2004 - 2008
High schoolCary-Grove Community High School (1969)
Bachelor'sUniversity of Illinois (1976)
Master'sUniversity of Illinois (1976)
Date of birthMarch 6, 1951
Place of birthLake Forest, IL
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Brad Johnson (b. March 6, 1951) is a Republican member of the Montana Public Service Commission, representing District 5. He first won election to the seat in 2014 and was sworn in the following January.[1]

Johnson is a former Montana Secretary of State. He was elected in 2004 and lost his bid for re-election in 2008 to Linda McCulloch (D). He attemped to take back the seat from McCulloch in the 2012 election, but was unsuccessful.


Johnson was born in Lake Forest, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1976 with a master's degree in agriculture and moved to Montana in 1980 to begin his career.[2] Johnson's interest in politics dated back to his teen years, when he joined the Teen Age Republicans. He was a member of the College Republicans at the University of Illinois, and volunteered on presidential campaigns for both Richard Nixon and John Connaly before entering politics full time. Once in Montana, Johnson became the district representative for Montana’s former Congressman Ron Marlene. He was appointed to serve on the Montana Republican party’s executive board, and was reappointed in 2003.[2]

Prior to running for office in 2004, Johnson owned an auto parts store and worked for a firm called RightNow Technologies. When he left the secretary of state's office in 2008, he started working as a consultant and as part of a group developing a small-scale alternative energy venture.[3]


  • Bachelor's degree in agriculture, University of Illinois (1974)
  • Master's degree in agriculture, University of Illinois (1976)

Political Career

Montana Public Service Commission (2015-present)

Johnson was elected to the Montana Public Service Commission in 2014. He was sworn into office in January 2015, replacing Bill Gallagher (R) in District 5.

Montana Secretary of State (2004 - 2008)

Johnson ran for U.S. House in 1990 and U.S. Senate in 2002 before finally winning election to the statewide position of Montana Secretary of State in 2004.

Johnson was first elected in 2004, and took office in 2005. He served one term, during which he implemented the federal Help America Vote Act and increased overall time and cost efficiency of the office by introducing electronic processing systems.[3]

He lost his bid for re-election in 2008 to then-Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch by about 5,300 votes. That loss was followed by an unsuccessful run for Public Service Commission seat from District 5, in which he was defeated in the Republican primary.[3]


On the heels of his 2010 lost bid for PSU, Johnson was caught driving with a blood-alcohol content reading of 0.24 percent, far surpassing the legal limit. He pleaded guilty to drunken driving and checked himself into an alcohol treatment program. When asked, upon announcing his candidacy in 2012, about the experience, he said it was "incredibly painful, but also life-changing," and that it enabled him to confront the problem and now live a sober, better lifestyle.[3]



See also: Montana down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Johnson ran for election to the office of Montana Public Service Commissioner. He won the Republican primary on June 3, 2014.[4][1] The general election took place November 4, 2014.


Primary Results
Montana Public Service Commissioner #5, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngBrad Johnson 49.5% 12,578
Derek Skees 34% 8,640
John Campbell 16.4% 4,172
Total Votes 25,390
Election Results via Montana Secretary of State.
General election
Public Service Commissioner of Montana, District 5, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBrad Johnson 61% 44,818
     Democratic Galen Hollenbaugh 39% 28,625
Total Votes 73,443
Election Results via Montana Secretary of State.


See also: Montana secretary of state election, 2012

Current secretary of state Linda McCulloch (D) unseated Johnson in the 2008 secretary of state election. On October 13, 2011, Johnson announced his bid to reclaim the seat. He successfully overtook Drew Turiano, Scott Aspenlieder and Patty Lovaas for the Republican nomination in the primary election on June 5, 2012.

Johnson came in second to incumbent Linda McCulloch (D) and Roger Roots (L) in the general election on November 6, 2012.

Montana Secretary of State General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngLinda McCulloch Incumbent 51.4% 245,024
     Republican Brad Johnson 45.1% 214,976
     Libertarian Roger Roots 3.5% 16,622
Total Votes 476,622
Election Results via Montana Secretary of State.

  • Primary
Montana Secretary of State Republican Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngBrad Johnson 55.1% 66,148
Scott Aspenlieder 22.7% 27,204
Patty Lovaas 15.5% 18,652
Drew Turiano 6.7% 8,074
Total Votes 120,078
Election Results via Montana Secretary of State.


  • Voter fraud

Johnson's main campaign platform was to improve the integrity of Montana's voting system. He wanted to impede voter fraud through increased voter-ID requirements. While admitting that fraud is "not rampant" in Montana, he said that following the example of several other states in implementing a photo-ID law would be a wise step toward guaranteeing honesty in elections.[5]

  • Elections

In order to minimize "Election Day chaos," Johnson proposed that Montana's - almost unique - election-day registration be eliminated. He said he did not oppose late voter-registration, but thought there should be a more reasonable cut-off time.[5] He also wants to take advantage of available technologies for automatic signature verification for mail-in ballots and "the initiative process."[6].

  • Limitations of the office

Johnson also proposes expanding the secretary's authority to help prosecute those suspected of voter fraud, which he said would "involve a cooperative arrangement with the attorney general’s Justice Department."[5] Currently, the secretary can only pass on reports to the department, a system which, according to Johnson, has proven ineffectual at treating the issue.[5] Despite trailing his fellow Republican candidates throughout the primary season, reporting under $2,000 in cash contributions, he ran as if he has already won his party's nomination, focusing largely on his general election prospects. About his past showdown with McCulloch, Johnson said “I don’t know the last time we’ve had a rematch for secretary of state, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.”[5]


Johnson narrowly lost his bid for re-election in the 2008 race for Montana Secretary of State to Linda McCulloch (D).

Montana Secretary of State, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngLinda McCulloch 49.3% 233,717
     Republican Brad Johnson 48.2% 228,412
     Constitution Sieglinde Sharbono 2.5% 11,722
Total Votes 473,851
Election Results via Montana Secretary of State


Johnson successfully won election as Montana Secretary of State in 2004, defeating Democrat Bill Kennedy.

Montana Secretary of State, 2004
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBrad Johnson 51% 219,821
     Democratic Bill Kennedy 49% 210,972
Total Votes 430,793
Election Results via Montana Secretary of State

Campaign donors


Johnson lost the election to the position of Montana Secretary of State in 2012. During that election cycle, Johnson raised a total of $73,519.



3724B Old Highway 12 East
East Helena, MT 59635

Tel: 422-5933

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Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Gallagher (R)
Montana Public Service Commissioner - District 5
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bob Brown (R)
Montana Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Linda McCulloch (D)