Corey Stapleton

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Corey Stapleton
21st Secretary of State of Montana
In office
January 2, 2017 – January 4, 2021
GovernorSteve Bullock
Preceded byLinda McCulloch
Succeeded byChristi Jacobsen
Member of the Montana Senate
from the 27th district
In office
January 2001 – January 2009
Preceded byBruce Crippen
Succeeded byGary Branae
Personal details
Born (1967-09-17) September 17, 1967 (age 56)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationUnited States Naval Academy (BS)
WebsiteCampaign website

Corey Stapleton (born September 17, 1967) is an American politician and musician who served as the Secretary of State of Montana from 2017 to 2021. A Republican, he served as a member of the Montana State Senate from 2001 to 2009.

In 2020, Stapleton ran to represent Montana's at-large congressional district in the United States House of Representatives, but lost the Republican primary to Matt Rosendale. After losing the House race, Stapleton announced in 2021 his intention to pursue a career as a country singer. After expressing interest in a candidacy for president of the United States in the 2024 election, Stapleton became the first Republican office-holder to announce their run; he withdrew in October 2023 before the primaries.

Early life, education and military service

Stapleton was born on September 17, 1967, in Seattle. Nominated by the Secretary of the Navy, he attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island. Serving as battalion adjutant and earning the Most Inspirational Wrestler Award, he entered the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where Stapleton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering.

He served as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) and the Aegis cruiser USS Hué City (CG-66). He voluntarily resigned his naval commission in 1997 to work in Billings, Montana, as a financial advisor.

Montana Senate


In 2000 he won a three-way Republican primary and then general election to become the first Generation X-er elected to the Montana Senate. In 2004, he won re-election to a second term, defeating Democrat Chris Daem 57%–43%.


Stapleton was elected Minority Whip in 2006 until term-limited out of office in 2008. He served as Senate Minority Leader in the 2007 legislative session, which ended without a budget compromise between the Democratic-controlled senate and Republican-controlled House.

Stapleton sponsored several pieces of legislation including Otter Creek Coal development (SB409 2003) the attempted creation of a Montana medical school (SB273 2005) the Montana National Guard Relief Act (SB75) and the demand for reorganization and replacement of the Montana Department of Revenue's computer system POINTS (SB271 2003).

Stapleton served as chairman of the Montana Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, and advocated for the party's "Handshake with Montana" plan which he compared to the 1994 Republican Party "Contract with America". Montana Republicans gained the majority of the State House and shared control of the Montana State Senate with the Democratic Party in the 2006 election.

Committee assignments

  • Finance and Claims
  • Legislative Audit

Campaigns for higher office

2012 gubernatorial election

Stapleton ran for Governor of Montana with former state senator Bob Keenan as running mate in 2012. He lost to former U.S. Congressman Rick Hill, who won the seven-candidate Republican primary with a plurality of 34% of the vote. Stapleton ranked second with 18% of the vote, sixteen points behind Hill. He won only two counties in the state: Yellowstone (33%) and Treasure (29%).

2014 U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives elections

In early 2013, he decided to run for the U.S. Senate and challenge longtime Democratic incumbent Max Baucus. Stapleton criticized Baucus's record and started a petition to repeal Obamacare. In April 2013, Baucus decided to retire. After it became clear that freshman Representative Steve Daines would seek the Senate seat, Stapleton withdrew from the Senate race to instead run for Daines' seat in the House. Stapleton lost the Republican primary to Ryan Zinke.

2020 U.S. House of Representatives election

On June 15, 2019, Stapleton announced his 2020 candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives. He had initially been a candidate in the crowded 2020 Montana gubernatorial election. He lost the Republican primary to Matt Rosendale.

2024 U.S. presidential election

Stapleton's campaign logo

On March 10, 2022, Stapleton announced that he was "testing the waters" for a 2024 presidential campaign. Stapleton later confirmed he was running on November 11, 2022. He has been described as a "long-shot candidate" due to his lack of polling representation and media coverage.[citation needed] Stapleton has raised $7,717 total for his campaign, all through individual contributions, as of March 31, 2023. He withdrew from the election on October 13, 2023.

Secretary of state

In July 2017, Stapleton said that there had been 360 cases of voter fraud in Montana in the 2017 special congressional election. When asked to substantiate his claims, Stapleton said that he had been "incorrectly" quoted by the Associated Press and Lee Newspapers.

In October 2018, Stapleton came under scrutiny after it was revealed that a Voter Guide written, published, and mailed by the Montana Secretary of State office had failed to distinguish what changes proposed ballot initiatives would make to existing laws through underlining additions and striking deletions, instead printing the new laws without these distinguishing marks. Stapleton's office awarded the $265,000 contract to print and mail the corrections to all Montana voters to Ultra Graphics, a firm run by former state Republican Party Executive Director Jake Eaton. Stapleton claimed that Eaton's company was awarded the contract because it had submitted the lowest bid. After news reports indicated that a company in Arizona had submitted a bid for less money, Stapleton stated that the Eaton-led firm's bid was the cheapest, because it was the only one able to complete the printing and mailing on time due to being in Montana.

In June 2019, in response to a legislative audit that found he was improperly commuting in a state vehicle, Stapleton's staff claimed that he was not commuting but "teleworking." The matter was turned over to the Helena Police Department. A city attorney refused to file charges, referring to the expiration of a one year statute of limitations, although an AP investigation alleged further potential violations occurring after the period of the audit.

In February 2019, Stapleton was fined $4,000 by Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices for four separate violations of State law in using resources from his secretary of state office to announce his gubernatorial campaign.

Personal life

Stapleton married his wife Terry in 1992 in Great Falls. They had four children. The couple divorced in 2021. Stapleton has served on various community boards including Montana Manufacturing Extension board, Rotary, American Legion, and the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind foundation. Stapleton is part of country music band Corey Stapleton & The Pretty Pirates and released albums as recently as 2022.


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  30. ^ Warren, Bradley (March 10, 2022). "Corey Stapleton announcing that he is "Testing the Waters," to run for president in 2024". ABC Fox MT. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  31. ^ Stapleton for President (November 11, 2022). "Former Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton Says 'Pay It Forward', Announces Bid for U.S. President 2024". (Press release). Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  32. ^ "STAPLETON, COREY - Candidate overview". Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  33. ^ "U.S. Presidential Candidate Corey Stapleton Bows Out of Race". NewsWire. October 13, 2023. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
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  38. ^ "Stapleton: Awarding Contract to Friend was Right for Voters". Flathead Beacon. November 13, 2018. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  39. ^ Staff. "Staff: Stapleton used state truck to telework, not commute". Great Falls Tribune. Gannett. AP. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  40. ^ "Records Show Montana Official's Vehicle Misuse". Flathead Beacon. AP. October 13, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
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  43. ^ "MSDB Express : Montana School for the Deaf and Blind" (PDF). 2009. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  44. ^ "Corey Stapleton & the Pretty Pirates". Spotify.

External links

Media related to Corey Stapleton at Wikimedia Commons

Montana Senate
Preceded by Member of the Montana Senate
from the 10th district

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ken Toole
Member of the Montana Senate
from the 27th district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of State of Montana
Succeeded by