Montana Congressional District 2: Democrats take on Rosendale

In Montana’s New Eastern District, outgoing and first-term Republican Representative Matt Rosendale starts off with huge benefits for 2022, both in terms of money and the district’s political inclination – but he’s not without opposition. .

Outdoors writer Jack Ballard, a Democrat from Red Lodge, kicked off his campaign in August, three months before the Montana 2 district boundaries were final two weeks ago.

He has toured the state and spoken to voters, sending them the message that he is the candidate with the Montanians working in mind, claiming that it is increasingly difficult for them to make ends meet in the state of Big Sky.

“Democrats need to do a better message on ‘Look, we are for the working class people,’ Ballard told MTN News in a recent interview. “We want wealthy individuals and businesses to pay a fair share of taxes, and we will demand that they compensate people fairly.”

Ballard, 58, who grew up on a ranch west of Three Forks, says he wants to raise the federal minimum wage, supports unions and that Congress and the federal government should focus on the industry. packaging of meat, so ranchers get paid a larger share of the consumer’s dollar for their product.

Republicans won’t do any of that, he says, and voters need to keep that in mind when they go to the polls next November.

Still, according to the Dave’s Redistricting website, which analyzes congressional districts, the new District 2 has a paltry 22 percentage points for Republicans, 60 to 38 percent of its current composition of voters.

The district includes the towns of Billings, Great Falls and Helena and spans 40 counties in central and eastern Montana and the eastern half of Pondera County.

Rosendale was elected Montana’s only congressman in 2020 and will likely stand for re-election in District 2. The state won an additional district seat this year after 30 years as a single district across the country. ‘State.

Rosendale already has about $ 700,000 in his campaign account – nearly 40 times the money Ballard had at the end of September ($ 19,000).

He told MTN News he was not in Congress to “vote whatever the direction of the political wind” but rather to defend Montana, and that includes opposing President Biden’s “unprecedented attacks. against our freedoms and our American way of life “.

As a congressman, Rosendale voted against major initiatives passed by Democrats in Congress, such as the $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill in November and the sweeping COVID-19 relief bill in November. March.

Like many Republicans who voted against the infrastructure bill, he called it a “Trojan horse” filled with money for “left-wing purposes,” such as clean energy initiatives.

He also joined some of the more conservative members of the House on a number of controversial votes, such as opposition to Congressional gold medals for the police who defended the Capitol from the Jan.6 rioters.

“He’s aligned himself with a group of about a dozen Republicans in Congress who don’t do the people’s job,” Ballard said. “I just don’t see how it’s positive for Montana or how it’s positive for the country.”

Rosendale’s campaign said he had presented and worked on many proposals to help the state, such as those to stop “frivolous” lawsuits that block timber management in national forests, expand healthcare , reduce drug prices and increase oversight of the VA health system.

While Ballard has been campaigning since August, he likely won’t be the only Democrat with a long-running campaign in District 2. Billings City Councilor Penny Ronning announced last week that she would run for office and Skylar Williams filed documents with the Federal Election Commission to do the same.

In addition to writing for outdoor publications and books on wildlife and hunting, Ballard also worked as a Baptist teacher and pastor. He is a graduate of Yellowstone Bible College in Billings, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., And Montana State University-Billings.

He says he would have voted for the infrastructure bill, and notes that the Democratic “Build Better” bill still before Congress has antitrust enforcement funding that could be used. to examine the meat packaging industry.

“The infrastructure bill is a no-brainer for Montana,” he said. “There is so much to be sorted out in this state when it comes to rural and municipal water supply systems, roads, bridges and the provision of irrigation for farming operations. …

“And, by the way, producing thousands of really good jobs you don’t need to have an advanced education to hold.”

Still, when asked how a little-known Democrat can stand a chance in a new district with a measly 22 percentage points for Republicans, Ballard says he’ll have to do it one voter at a time, meet people. face to face. and talk to them about the issues that matter.

“My goal is to start with the basics,” he says. “You have to be able to earn a living. You don’t have to worry about health care. Prioritize those, then work on the other areas that really make Montana what it is for our citizens. “

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