A woman who started an organization to tap the power of First Ladies around the world and has spent most of her career working on public health issues said Tuesday she is running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in Montana.
Cora Neumann joins already-announced candidates Wilmot Collins, who is the mayor of Helena, and John Mues, a Navy veteran and engineer. Another candidate, Michael Chantry Knoles, has filed as a Democrat with the Federal Election Commission. Red Lodge writer Jack Ballard was running as a Democrat, but dropped out for health reasons.
Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines is running to keep his seat for what would be his second term in the Senate. He was elected in 2014 after serving a term in the U.S. House. No Republicans have said they’ll challenge Daines.
Neumann, 44, was born in British Columbia and moved to Bozeman as an infant after her father died in a lumber mill accident. She said that experience, and her childhood with a stepfather who was a union construction worker, helped shape her political ideas and this Senate run.
“We lost my dad when I was a baby to a traumatic head injury in a lumber mill. If we had been closer to good care he may very well have survived,” Neumann said. “That really motivated me to work on public health.”
She also recalls her stepfather traveling to Great Falls for union jobs during the economic downturn of the 1980s, a struggle that eventually led them to leave the state for six years before coming back.
Later Neumann earned a doctorate in public health and launched the Global First Ladies Alliance a decade ago. The organization leverages the power of First Ladies around the world to work on issues such as access to health care and economic development, she said.
“You have this group of women who are at the pinnacle of society but nobody's really taking them seriously,” Neumann said.
She also worked at the State Department in the economic bureau. “My work was quite global and then over the last four years, I’ve actually been really focused on coming home and bringing all my skills and resources home,” Neumann said.
For the last four years she’s been working on public lands issues.
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Along with the other Democrats running for Senate, Neumann said part of the reason she’s seeking the job is she doesn’t agree with what Daines has done in D.C.
“I believe that Montana deserves a leader that’s representing Montana families,” Neumann said. “ … I do not see Steve Daines fighting for those same values.”
Neumann said she’s seeking the Senate seat because it best fits her experience, from being in the nonprofit and private sectors to time in federal government working on national and international policy.
“I do think it’s where my skills are very suited,” Neumann said.
As for her priorities in office, Neumann said she’d focus on health care, specifically making sure all Montanans, especially those in rural communities, can access quality care.
She also said she would focus on raising wages and would like to undo the federal tax bill Republicans passed in 2017, saying it has only benefited the wealthy. Additionally, Neumann said she would work to protect public lands and access to them.
Neumann said she considers herself an “independent with strong progressive values. I am a Democrat, but like most Montanans I am interested in getting the job done.”
As where a candidate is from and how long they’ve lived in Montana has increasingly played a role in statewide elections, Neumann said she’s prepared for any jabs that might come her way.
Her family, a husband and two teenage children, recently moved back to Bozeman. Her uncle is Carson Taylor, a former Bozeman mayor.
“What I can say is that I’m from here, I was raised here and I have brought my Montana values with me into everything I’ve done,” Neumann said. “ … I think my successes in the world have come from my Montana upbringing. It’s an asset to have gone out into the world and build a career, understanding how to fix these issues on the front lines.”