HELENA — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Bohlinger is saying now that if he’s elected, he’ll serve just one term — and be more effective because of it.
Incumbent senators spend one-third to one-half their time raising campaign funds for the next election, he says, instead of working on issues important to voters and the country.
“I’ll give you 100 percent of my time,” he said during a campaign swing in Livingston and Bozeman this week. “You’re going to get two-for-one in me, working on behalf of this huge legislative agenda I’m going to bring forward.”
Bohlinger, who turns 78 later this month, is one of three Democrats running for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat this year. The others are Sen. John Walsh, who was appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock to the job in February, and Wilsall rancher Dirk Adams.
Three Republicans also are vying for the seat, and Billings real estate broker Sam Rankin is trying to qualify as an Independent, through a petition process that requires signatures of registered voters.
Bohlinger, a former lieutenant governor, said initially last year he’d serve only one term, and then later backed off from that statement, saying he’d consider running again.
Now, however, he’s adamant in saying he’ll be a one-termer if elected.
Bohlinger said one of his main issues is promoting a constitutional amendment to declare that only human beings, not corporations, have First Amendment rights, to undo a U.S. Supreme Court opinion allowing corporations to spend whatever they want to influence elections.
“I’m there to solve problems, and we’ve got a huge problem: The influence of money on political campaigns,” he said.
If you’re busy raising money, you also have to “make deals,” and “the only deal I’m making is with the people of Montana, to be fair and work hard on their behalf.”
Bohlinger said his agenda also includes reforming taxes to make them fairer for the middle class, passing an Equal Rights Amendment that protects women and gay and lesbian citizens, increasing Social Security benefits, expanding and improving assistance for Iraqi and Afghanistan war veterans, responsibly developing natural resources and the Keystone XL Pipeline, and working toward a medical system that provides equal benefits for all citizens.
Neither Walsh nor Adams have said they’ll serve just one term.
Bohlinger said his stance on serving just one term sometimes gets “mixed reviews” from fellow Democrats, but that he’s not changing his mind.
“A one-term senator can give 100 percent of his time to represent Montanans and the nation … on those critical issues that I’ve identified,” he said.