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Republicans have fielded two candidates for the June 6 primary in House District 51.

Michael Brockie and Jim Bennett are looking for the GOP nod to face Rep. Robyn Driscoll, D-Billings, in the November general election. Driscoll is the incumbent seeking a second term in HD51.

Brockie said he will bring a strong conservative voice to the district if elected. His experience as both employer and employee in small business will serve the district well, he said.

Bennett did not respond to a Gazette questionnaire asking to delineate himself from his opponent and what issues were key to his campaign. In a campaign announcement in early March, Bennett said health care and prescription costs and education were the issues.

Brockie said as he walked the district, residents are concerned about property taxes. He said the protection of children and fostering of the business climate are goals of his.

Both new home owners and long-time residents have never seen a reduction in property taxes, he said. "Because of Republican efforts of reducing business and income taxes over 10 years, we now have the wherewithal to give property owners relief," he said, referring to the estimated $300 million ending fund balance in the state's checkbook.

Believing that protection of children is paramount, Brockie said he supports a law that would put sexual predators in jail for a minimum of 25 years without parole for the first offense.

He said continuing the reduction of business regulation and taxes is needed to keep Montana's economy strong. "A continual effort to expand our economic base by encouraging venture capital to develop new industries will keep more of our educated young people in as well as creating higher paying jobs," Brockie said.

HD51 includes downtown Billings and much of the South Side. It is bounded on the west by 17th Street West, on the north by Grand Avenue and Burlington and on the east by the Yellowstone River. The southern border is formed by Terry and State avenues.

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