Lack of money doesn't stop Mont. man's campaign

Jim O'Hara stands in front of one of his hand-painted billboards in Montana

Some may believe that you can only run for office if you have a lot of money. But, one Montana man isn't letting the fact that he doesn't have that much cash stop him from running for governor of the state.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman traveled 50 miles outside of Great Falls to find Jim O'Hara.

O'Hara told Hartman that he chose to live in the remote part of the state because you get the best of both worlds: solitude and the ability to drive to town and get coffee with your "neighbors."

Being from such a remote area puts O'Hara at a disadvantage for getting votes. So, instead of relying on a PAC, he's packing paintbrushes, paint and billboards to get his message across.

O'Hara is driving from city to put up hand-painted campaign billboards featuring each county's courthouses to "(let the) people of Montana know that Jim O'Hara is running for governor."

"Courthouses are the foundation of government," he said, explaining why he chose to paint courthouses."They belong to the people."

Painting all the different, unique county courthouses in Montana may seem difficult, but the harder task was still up ahead: He decided to put each one up in the county where the corresponding courthouse was located. Just driving two or three billboards to their right location across the vast state is already a 1,000 mile round trip. O'Hara has logged over 20,000 miles to get his name out there in a few dozen places.

"It's become a game for wealthy people, and I think there are some good leaders who aren't wealthy that can't buy the name recognition," he said.

"Sometimes I wonder: Is it that great of a job to be governor?" he added.

His wife - and campaign manager - remains one of his biggest supporters.

"I hear they have a great big kitchen," she said about the governor's mansion.

"I'm like hurry up honey; I want to cook in that kitchen," she added.

Despite a recent poll that puts him with just 3 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, O'Hara is confident that he can change that tide, without changing himself.

"The thought did cross my mind, what if I do win this thing? How am I going to keep grounded? And, it's important," he said, ever optimistic about the future of his political campaign.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.