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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Tom Winter 2020 Election Questionnaire

Tom Winter

Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide primary candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 300 words per question. These are their unedited responses.

U.S. House candidate Tom Winter:

What is your full name as it will appear on ballots?

Tom Winter

What is your age?

33 years old

Where do you live?


What is your education background?

Some College (did not finish due to health reasons)

What is your current occupation?

State Legislator

Why are you running for this particular public office?

I'm running for Congress because our broken political system is failing Working Montanans. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare all of our systemic failures. I've seen firsthand as a volunteer EMT, as a small business owner providing in-home care, and as a sitting state legislator how our healthcare system fails Montana's families. People are struggling all across this state and it doesn’t have to be this way. Montana’s workers need a Representative that’s going to fight for them - not corporations or special interests.

We've been the first campaign to unionize in state history. We are the only campaign in this race with a comprehensive policy platform. We are the only ones not taking fossil fuel money. We are the only ones to never take a dime of corporate PAC money. This campaign is all about giving Montanans a fighting chance in a rigged system. We live our Montana values day in and day out. It would be an honor to represent Montanans in Congress.

What makes you qualified to hold this position?

I am a sitting state legislator representing a rural-meets-urban district in western Missoula County. It represents a microcosm of what Montana is and the issues facing our citizens. I won that seat that had previously voted Republican by 11 points by knocking over 20,000 doors to listen to my future constituents, learning their concerns. I then carried 24 bills in the state House, addressing every single one of them that I could, fulfilling the promises I made on those doorsteps. I have passed as many bills in one legislative session as a minority member than my primary opponent has in an entire career. The right kind of experience and who you fight for matters.

Our politics has failed us. Rather than electing the same politicians that run time and time again, despite being rejected by the majority of Montanans, I believe we need the next generation of public servants to step up to the call of service. We need someone that knows that the system has been rigged against us and cannot be bought by lobbyists and out-of-state special interests. We have been the only campaign in this race to consistently stand up for working Montanans. My track record in the legislature and the entirety of this campaign shows who I will fight for.

What are three policy issues that distinguish you from your opponent(s)?

I'm going to bend the rules a little and list four, because one of them will occupy the entirety of my next answer. Healthcare for All, Climate Change, universal childcare, and student loan debt relief.

We have been the only campaign in this race to push for truly universal healthcare coverage. If there's anything this pandemic has shown us it's that we need big, transformative change in our healthcare system. Extending Medicare to those 55 years and older, the only healthcare plan my primary opponent has, still leaves thousands and thousands of Montanans with inadequate healthcare. And does nothing to deal with affordability. Go to our website and look at the plans we have to address dozens of more substantive fixes to our current system as we continue to work towards full universal coverage.

We have been the only campaign to push for universal childcare. Montana is in the middle of a childcare crisis that nobody is talking about. Every parent, every family, and every child deserves childcare. I will work tirelessly to change federal policy to bring childcare to every community in Montana; in the cities, on the reservations, and in ranching and farming communities. We cannot fail another generation of Montanans.

I carried a bill last legislative session that would have relieved every graduate of the MUS of their student loan debts as they worked in the state. We cannot continue to allow the next generation of Montanans to be saddled with debt and look out of state for employment that can help them pay it back, only exacerbating our brain drain. This has not been an issue on many Montana politicians' radar, but I will make it one once elected.

What are the greatest issues facing Montana that have gone unsolved by elected officials and how would you address them?

To date we are the only campaign to call the climate crisis the existential threat it is. The climate is changing. It is burning our forests, choking our towns in smoke, melting our snowpack, heating our trout streams, and changing the yields on our farms and ranches. It is already affecting the most vulnerable.

We need a just transition away from a fossil fuel economy and to bring in the next century jobs to our staggering economy. Our changing climate will hurt Montanans across the board. Our farmers and ranchers, our outdoor economy, our way of life is under threat unless we start acting now. Montana's politicians have been too afraid to confront this crisis until recently. I have been encouraged by Governor Bullock's work and leadership on this issue with his creation of a climate council, bringing many diverse voices a seat at the table. But, we need our member of Congress to take up this issue through the federal government. If we don't solve this problem no others matter.

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