Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
A Helena attorney and retired U.S. Army National Guard lieutenant colonel returned to Havre Friday to campaign in his bid to upset U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg in the 2008 election. “I think Rehberg’s out of touch with Montana values,” Jim Hunt said in an interview Friday. Hunt, who grew up in Chester and served as post commander in Havre for part of his 24-years with the National Guard, was in Havre meeting with area citizens from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday. He faces Robert Candee of Richey and John Driscoll of Helena in the Democratic primary June 3. Hunt said he opposes Rehberg on many issues, including the war in Iraq, expanding health insurance, fuel prices and the economy. He added that attacks against him by the Montana Republicans and by Rehbergs reelection campaign, such as about his announcing his candidacy outside of Fort Harrison by Missoula or about his career as an attorney, is an attempt to avoid those issues. “I think by trying to make other issues where they don’t exist he’s running away from issues for Montana,” Hunt said. Hunt said the United States needs to immediately start removing its military’s presence in Iraq, although he said it is not something that can be completed immediately. “It’s going to take a while because of the sheer logistics of it,” he said. Removing the presence in Iraq, which is costing billions of dollars, would allow the United States to focus its attention on other issues, including fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and helping the U.S. economy, Hunt said. “It’s driving up gas prices and driving our economy down,” he added. He saidit will be impossible to get out of Iraq if the point is to wait for the Iraqi government to be able to take care of itself while the U.S. military is still there providing support. “They will never be ready and we will never leave,” Hunt said, adding that the United States should have been out of Iraq in less than two years. Hunt said he would stand up for his beliefs about the war and all issues to the president, whether the president is a Democrat or Republican, saying Rehberg will not stand up to Bush against the presence in Iraq. Hunt said another major issue is making sure al l Americans have adequate health care. That will take a major cooperative effort, he added. “Because there are so many different opinions we need to work together for a solution,” he said. He said the solution will be something unique to the United States, not a copy of models in Canada or elsewhere in the world. One need is to help bring more medical providers to rural areas such as in Montana, Hunt said. He supports existing programs that forgive college debt for medical providers who come to rural areas. “I think we need to be more aggressive about it,” Hunt said. He said the country needs to be more aggressive in pursuing energy independence, including increasing development of alternative energy like biofuels, solar power and wind power. He said he thinks increased investments such as tax incentives for development and production would help the United States achieve that independence. He also said he would better represent Montana interests for hunting, fishing and outdoor sports than Rehberg. Hunt, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, said that because of his interest in conservation and sports he will be an advocate for Montana oudtdoor sports enthusiasts. Hunt, who attended school in Chester until his junior year then moved to Helena, received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Montana in Missoula. He and his father, Bill Hunt, both served in Havre Bill Hunt was the commander of the U.S. Army Reserve company in Havre in the 1960s both had careers in law Bill Hunt served on the Montana Supreme Court for 16 years. Hunt said his law practice in Helena focuses in protecting consumers from big business. “I represent clients against big companies, big insurance and the government,” Hunt said. He is a chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Montana and he and his wife of 24 years, Barb Hunt, have two daughters, Hannah and Isabelle. Hunt added that he discounted people’s asking him if he was intimidated in making his first run for political office. “I said, No, I’ve got two teenage daughters,’” he said.