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Missoula writer, Blackfeet member joining US House race

A Missoula writer and member of the Blackfeet Tribe has announced her run for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat as a Democrat.

Melinda Gopher ran for the seat in 2010, coming in third in the Democratic Primary. She is running a campaign focused on bucking the Democratic establishment.

“We have a power elite that has abused the Indian vote for a long time in the state, and that power elite has been led by Senator Baucus,” Gopher said.

Gopher faults Senator Baucus’s legacy for a number of reasons, but most vocally for his involvement as a chief architect of the Affordable Care Act.

“It was legislation that was shortsighted and it was written by the health insurance industry,” She said.

Gopher announced her House bid on social media last week. Her complaints about the Affordable Care Act have already been seized upon by the GOP.

The National Republican Congressional Committee put out a press release saying Gopher is taking a stand and speaking out against the “ObamaCare” trainwreck. But Gopher’s views on healthcare actually come from much further on the left than Obamacare. She wants universal healthcare, a single payer system, which she says has been shown to produce better health outcomes at lower costs in other countries.

Gopher also faults her only Democratic primary opponent so far for his ties to Senator Baucus. John Lewis was a long-time Baucus staffer, most recently serving as the Senator’s state director before leaving to focus on his House campaign.

“There’s a kind of a stain of incumbency on him,” she said.

Lewis has a lot of financial and political support for his bid, but Gopher believes voters understand that different voices are needed in Congress to affect real change.

The paralegal and has spent most of her career in the nonprofit sector. She said she now works full-time as a writer.   

She lists addressing climate change as a top priority.

“Our energy policy shouldn’t mean fracking every available inch of this nation,” she said.

Gopher believes the fossil fuel industry should be taxed at a greater rate to create more investments in renewable energy.

“No one in Washington seems to be willing to do that,” she said, “including the Obama Administration, including our own representatives here in Montana. They’re happy to go along to get along.”

Gopher said she supports former Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger in his run for U.S. Senate. According to her, Bohlinger’s main Democratic Challenger, current Lieutenant Governor John Walsh, is too tied-in with the Democratic powers that be, like Baucus. She also applauds Bohlinger for being a part of the Schweitzer administration, which she says was a great friend of Indian Country.

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