Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
The race for the Democratic nomination for the next president of the United States is heating up in Montana, including in north-central Montana. Wednesday state Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Rocky Boy, held another press conference to endorse U.S. Sen Barack Obama, D-Ill., in his bid for the nomination. The next day the the campaign for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, announced that health policy analyst and consultant Lena Belcourt of Rocky Boy was taking the position of Indian affairs coordinator for Clinton’s campaign in Montana. Friday, the day after Belcourt joined other north-central Montanan’s in supporting Clinton, the Obama campaign announced it was opening a campaign office in Havre, its sixth in the state. The campaigns have fired up in Montana, hotly contesting its 24 delegates up for grabs in the Democratic nomination. The campaigning comes in a primary election that could hinge on just a few delegates The Assocatiated Press this morning reported that Obama has a slight lead in pledged delegates and superdelegates, 1,724 1/2 to Clinton’s 1,593 1/2. Windy Boy, also a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s council on Rocky Boy, has been a vocal proponent for Obama. On April 10, he participated in a telephone press conference announcing 37 state elected officials endorsing the Illinois senator, and last week participated in another press conference as co-chair of the Montana Native Americans for Obama Committee. A group of Montana sportsmen have also held a press conference, endorsing Obama on April 18. The endorsements in north-central Montana have not been one-sided, however. Other’s from the area endorsing Clinton include Havre City Councilperson Pam Hillery, a member of Clinton’s state steering committee “The list is ever-growing,” said Kate Downen, Montana communications director for Clinton. Others on the steering committee for Clinton include, state Sen. Carol Juneau of Browning, state Rep. Shannon Augare of Browning, Cascade County Commissioner Peggy Beltrone and state Reps. Deborah Kottel and Bill Wilson of Great Falls. State Sen. Ken Hansen of Harlem who introduced former President Bill Clinton when he campaigned for his wife in Havre on April 1 has also endorsed Hillary Clinton, and submitted a letter in her support that ran on page four of the Havre Daily News on Thursday. Windy Boy joins a list of elected officials including Public Service Commission Chair Greg Jergeson of Chinook, former state Rep. Ray Peck of Havre and Sen. Don Ryan of Great Falls on Obama’s committee. He also joins Sen. Frank Smith of Poplar on both the elected official and the Native American committees. Windy Boy is running against Smith in the Democratic primary election for state Senate District 16. The Obama campaign announced last Friday that it was opening a campaign office in Havre. A grand opening of the office is scheduled at 6 p.m. Wednesday in its location at 301 Third Avenue. Both groups have said that their candidate will be the best president to help Montana. In a press release Thursday, Belcourt, who has worked in Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s administration as well as with the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation government and assisted tribes in other states on programs including anti-methamphetatime initiates, said Clinton would be the best candidate for Indian Country. “Indian people need a candidate who will hit the ground running, who has links to Indian Country and has supported legislation important to Indian Country,” she said. ”We need someone who knows who we are. That's Hillary Clinton.” Windy Boy and Crow Nation Chair Carl Venne said much the same about Obama. Windy Boy said Obama’s background lets him understand what it is like to live in poverty and to have 50 to 70 percent unemployment. Obama’s commitment to having a Native American on his staff if elected and to meet with Indian leaders at least once a year also shows how his presidency would benefit Indians and Montana, Windy Boy said. Bill Clinton said much the same about his wife when he campaigned in Havre. Her experience when first out of law school, and in working with lowand middle-income residents of rural Arkansas when he was governor of that state, as well as her experience in rural New York while a senator there, will make her the best candidate to take on issues in Montana, he said. Hillery said she supports Clinton because of her years in public service, both as the wife of Bill Clinton while he was governor of Arkansas and as U. S. President and during her own years of public service, the fact that she would be the first woman president and that she thinks Hillary Clinton has the best chance to beat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, in the general election in November. “I believe she is the person who can make change happen,” Hillery said.