The forgotten race: Gillan vs. Daines for Montana’s open U.S. House seat (and, a Libertarian)

2012-08-12T00:00:00Z 2012-08-17T22:25:34Z The forgotten race: Gillan vs. Daines for Montana’s open U.S. House seat (and, a Libertarian)By MIKE DENNISON Gazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
August 12, 2012 12:00 am  • 

HELENA — OK, here’s a political pop quiz: Can you name the top two candidates running for Montana’s U.S. House seat?

No? Well, don’t be too hard on yourself, because it’s a race flying well under the radar — which doesn’t seem to bother either of its major candidates.

“Maybe we’re doing Montanans a service by not being on the front page of the paper every day, and invading their radio and TV,” says Steve Daines, the Republican running for Montana’s open U.S. House seat. “I think Montanans are probably relieved there is at least one race out there, where they’re not seeing all the negative advertising.”

Kim Gillan, the Democrat in the race, also says the lack of publicity so far is no big deal, for she plans to keep running the race the way she’s been doing already: Crisscrossing the state, talking to voters and listening to their concerns.

“It’s the retail politics that I’ve always engaged in in my (legislative) district, that I’m finding to be an effective way to engage people in this race,” she says.

Gillan, 60, a state senator from Billings, and Daines, 49, a former business executive from Bozeman, are vying for Montana’s only seat in the U.S. House, an office being vacated this year by Rep. Denny Rehberg, the Republican who’s leaving the post to challenge U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Win or lose in the Senate race, Rehberg will be out of his current job, clearing the way for Gillan, Daines, or Libertarian Dave Kaiser (see related story) to be Montana’s next and only representative in the U.S. House.

While Rehberg, Tester and their allies have been slugging it out on TV with big-money ad buys since springtime, Daines and Gillan have run mostly low-key affairs, raising campaign funds and traveling the state to meet with potential voters.

Yet while Daines and Gillan have similar takes on the nature of the race, they offer voters a stark political contrast on major issues of the day, including health-care reform, taxes, Medicare and abortion.

Daines says he would vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s health-reform law, the Affordable Care Act, and that he would have voted for the so-called Ryan budget, the conservative budget blueprint from U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and endorsed by the GOP-controlled House in March.

“We’ve got to start moving forward with constructive solutions that address the economy and pro-growth policies, as well as the unsustainable spending path that we’re on today,” he says. “(Ryan’s) plan is a step in that direction.”

Daines says he’d consider revamping Medicare for those younger than 55, in order to keep the program financially sound – and that could include a voucher program, giving people government support to buy private health insurance.

Daines also says he’d vote to extend all of the Bush tax cuts this year, including those for the wealthy: “The last thing we need to have is a huge tax increase at the first of this year, at the same time our economy is struggling to grow.”

Gillan, on the other hand, says the tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 or $500,000 a year should be ended or phased out.

She wants to see the “whole range of options” that would keep Medicare financially viable, but doesn’t like the idea of a voucher plan.

She also says she would have voted against the Ryan budget, because it “balances the budget on the backs of middle-class, working folks, and that’s basically what we have in Montana.”

The Ryan budget would cut student loans, worker-training funds, women’s health-care programs and other “investments” that help the economy and particularly help moderate-income families like those in Montana, she says.

Gillan says she supports the Affordable Care Act, including its mandate for people to have health insurance by 2014, because it will increase access to care, stop “cost-shifting” of care for the uninsured and work to control costs.

The two candidates also differ on abortion, with Daines saying he’d like to see the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1972 decision that legalized abortion, and Gillan saying she fully supports a woman’s right to choose whether she wants to have an abortion.

“Issues of birth control and abortion should be left up to a woman to decide, with her family and medical provider,” she says.

As the race enters its final 90 days, Daines certainly has one advantage: Money.

A candidate for almost two years, Daines has raised far more in campaign funds than Gillan and, as of June 30, had a nearly 10-to-1 cash advantage. He had $853,000 in his campaign account, while Gillan, who had to get through a crowded Democratic primary in June, emerged with only $88,000 in the bank.

Gillan says she can’t out-raise Daines, but that money doesn’t always make the difference in Montana politics, and that she’ll be emphasizing her legislative record of working with Democrats and Republicans to pass bills and budgets on things that matter to everyday Montanans.

“All the money in the world won’t buy you a track record,” she says. “As far as I know, (Daines) is mostly about rhetoric.”

Daines says his track record is one of creating real jobs as an executive at RightNow Technologies, a Bozeman software firm with 1,100 employees, and balancing real budgets.

“This is an election that’s going to decide which direction this country heads in the future,” he says. “People are anxious about future jobs for their kids and grandkids. … They see us following a path that is leading us down the course that Europe has been on, of higher taxes and large debt.”

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. 2 More Cents
    Report Abuse
    2 More Cents - August 12, 2012 9:47 pm
    A reminder ... Gillan's efforts in the Montana legislature allowed the City of Billings to bypass the taxpayers of Billings and increase the mill levy for additional parks and recreation taxes. She can never be forgiven for that. Never.
  2. libertarian
    Report Abuse
    libertarian - August 12, 2012 7:08 pm
    2012 we have already seen what happens when Republicans controlled Washington in the Bush years. You forget that Medicare Part D was designed to out spend the Democrats to get the senior vote. Conrad Burns was just a liberal spender who got his foot stuck in his mouth, one too many times. Conrad thought the Patriot Act didn't violate the Consitution but the courts have said otherwise. So Conrad shot hmself in the foot and didn't need any help from libertarians. Same day voting also helped Tester since Democrats seem to do better at getting out the vote then Republicans. While I understand your need to be a team player, I just can't vote for a candidate like Obama or an Obama lite candidate like Romney. So as someone said "I don't believe that the Democrats are sngle handedly destroying this country. I know that they, like the Republicans are using both hands." There are good candidates in all parties working for liberty, and I'd rather support candidates over parties.
  3. real deal
    Report Abuse
    real deal - August 12, 2012 11:01 am
    Daines is one of the biggest contributors to the organization against Montana ranchers!
  4. manfrommontana
    Report Abuse
    manfrommontana - August 12, 2012 9:34 am
    “All the money in the world won’t buy you a track record,” she says. “As far as I know, (Daines) is mostly about rhetoric.”
    Attagirl Kim, way to stick to your pledge of no negativity. You kept your promise to the voters for exactly ONE interview.
  5. Jus Wundrin
    Report Abuse
    Jus Wundrin - August 12, 2012 8:59 am
    A vote for gillan, is a vote for Irresponsibility, Greece, Spain, Italy, France, etc....
  6. Jus Wundrin
    Report Abuse
    Jus Wundrin - August 12, 2012 8:57 am
    A major problem is the debt. Should we tax everyone at 90% to justify your gubment takes care of all utopia?
  7. ReadySetGo
    Report Abuse
    ReadySetGo - August 12, 2012 8:27 am
    Until we can have a viable 3rd party, 2012 is 100% correct. Daines is a quality individual that would work hard for Montana residents and voters. We can't handle any more dems that follow The Obama and interests from California and New York.
  8. billy banger
    Report Abuse
    billy banger - August 12, 2012 8:17 am
    Throwing your vote away would be giving it to the same obstructionists republicans that like to complain but do nothing but take 30 something votes on issues already past and approved by the supreme court. Vote the republicans out and get this country back on the road of dealing with its problems not stopping all foreward movement.
  9. 2012
    Report Abuse
    2012 - August 12, 2012 7:20 am
    Good job there libertarian. Go ahead, fall on your sword and die for nothing but giving the seat to the Democrat. You libbers have absolutely no common sense. You even take credit for defeating Burns with your wacked out thinking and take credit for Tester. Why not just say you're a liberal Democrat and get it over with instead of hiding behind the fancy title? The conservatives have an opportunity to take the House and Senate seat, but you want to make a point, and I'm still not sure what that is, and neither are most of your followers. But it's your vote and you have every right to vote they way you want, so why are you throwing it away?
  10. libertarian
    Report Abuse
    libertarian - August 12, 2012 12:37 am
    Daines does not have any plans, so my vote will go to Kaiser the Libertarian. As the two party destroys this country it's time for a change. If Daines is another Rehberg clone we will see more vote to increase the debt limit. We don't need that.

Comment policy

We provide this forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the day's news. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and abuse are not. You must be logged into a personal account on Facebook to comment (FAQ). Readers are responsible for their comments and abuse of this privilege will not be tolerated. We reserve the right, without warning or notification, to remove comments and block users we determine violate our Terms of Service. Comments reflect the opinions of the author - not those of The Billings Gazette or its parent company.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

More from the Gazette

'Smoke weed everyday' the message — briefly — at UM

'Smoke weed everyday' the message — briefly — at UM

10 hours ago(0)
North Dakota man camps topic of research forum

North Dakota man camps topic of research forum

12 hours ago(0)
Parental meth use involved in nearly half of 2015 CASA cases

Parental meth use involved in nearly half of 2015 CASA cases

13 hours ago(0)
Montana State receives $1M donation for computer science

Montana State receives $1M donation for computer science

March 02, 2015 3:44 pm
Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel may be moving to Montana

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel may be moving to Montana

March 02, 2015 3:41 pm(5)
Business leaders champion preschool as smart investment

Business leaders champion preschool as smart investment

March 02, 2015 3:18 pm(0)

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses