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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Gianforte Hits The Airwaves To Launch His Congressional Campaign

Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s special election May 25, 2017.
Rowebotz (CC-BY-SA-4.0)
Greg Gianforte is the Republican candidate for the U.S. House seate vacated by Ryan Zinke.

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte took to the airwaves Tuesday morning to, in a way, reintroduce himself to Montana voters:

Jessica Sena: What was your motivation behind your decision to run?

Greg Gianforte: I think many people know our story. My wife, Susan and I, 24-years-ago decided to raise our family and make our home in Montana. We picked Montana. We started a little company in our home and it grew to be one of the state’s largest employers ... 

During his half-hour appearance on the Northern Broadcasting System radio program "Voices of Montana," Gianforte explained to host Jessica Sena that he still feels an obligation to serve, even after losing his gubernatorial race against Democrat Steve Bullock last November:

"No one ever knows exactly what the future holds. I know that one door closes and another one opens. We didn’t know that Ryan Zinke was going to get appointed to be Secretary of Interior, but he did. This is an opportunity. The reason I’m running is because Montana needs a strong voice back in D.C., Gianforte said."

Gianforte told Sena that the number one issue he hears about on the campaign trail is disdain for:

"Federal overreach. We need a strong voice in Washington that will push back on special interests and agencies that are out of control so we can get more control and more decisions made by Montanans back here in Montana."

He said he hopes to soon see an executive order repealing the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan which aimed to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. While Gianforte says he supports renewable energy sources, he also wants them to, as he puts it, "compete on a level playing field":

"If you look at what we have today there are subsidies and grants for solar and wind. We are persecuting coal and oil with delayed permit processes and also with regulations that are strangling those industries. Let’s just level the playing field."

He noted developers of fossil fuel plants must post bond to cover future clean-up efforts:

"These solar installations – those massive concrete blocks are going to be in the ground for a long time. Who’s going to clean that up? They don’t have to bond their facilitates. We’ve got two sets of rules. Based on that, different energy sources should have to compete in an open market and the ones who can produce power at the lowest cost oughta win."

On healthcare, Gianforte said Obamacare is broken and need to be repealed and replaced:

"That dialogue is just starting in Washington. There’s a huge difference here between me and my opponent. Rob Quist is further left than Barack Obama. He believes we ought to have completely government-run healthcare. If anyone wants to see what that looks like, take a look at the VA."

Gianforte made no mention Tuesday of the Congressional Budget Office prediction that the Republican-backed American Health Care Act – or Trumpcare as some are calling it – would leave millions without coverage.

Gianforte also fielded a few phone calls during his appearance on Voices of Montana. One of the callers asked a very pointed question about Gianforte’s faith:

Jessica Sena: We’ve got Jerry out of the Flathead. Jerry, Good morning, you’re on Voices of Montana.

Jerry: I understand you’re a Creationist. In your opinion, how old is the universe?

GG: You know Jerry, I wasn’t there. I don’t know. It was a long time ago. I’m not sure how that bears on running for congress, but I am a Christian and I will tell you I believe that God had a strong hand in creating this earth but I don’t know how old the earth is. 

Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist have about 10 weeks until Montana’s May 25 special congressional election.

Gianforte on Tuesday made no mention of any upcoming debates with Quist.

Listen to the full Voices of Montana Program featuring Greg Gianforte here.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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