Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
The chair of the Montana Democratic Party said Friday he believes it is time for change in Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I think it’s time to bring some fresh thinking and a new sense of urgency to that job,” Dennis McDonald said in an interview following a listening session in Havre. McDonald has announced he is considering running against four-term incumbent Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., in the next national election. He said he will announce whether he will run or not during the annual Democratic Mansfield- Metcalf Dinner on March 21. He said his work as a Montana rancher he has a cow-calf operation and raises registered quarter horses at the ranch he and his family have operated near Melville since 1972 helps him know what issues are important to residents of the state. “I think I’m in a unique position to roll up my sleeves and work for ordinary Montanans,” McDonald said. He said working as a small-business owner on his ranch, making “hard decisions on a day-to-day basis,” would help him take a pragmatic approach to Washington if he were elected. “You have to leave your political posturing at home and go to Washington to solve problems,” he said. McDonald said he doesn't believe Rehberg is working in the best interests of Montanans, especially in these difficult economic times. “I think our congressman is a professional politician who has lost touch with Ordinary Montanans,” McDonald said. He cited Rehberg’s voting against the stimulus package recently signed into law by President Barack Obama as an example. Rehberg said he opposed increasing the national debt, McDonald said, but he also voted for the budgets of President Bush that put the country into debt over the last eight years. “He voted to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq, but he didn’t vote to rebuild Montana,” McDonald said. McDonald said he will leave the chair of the Montana Democratic party this year, whether he decides to run against Rehberg or not the campaign is too big a commitment even to think of doing both, he said. The party has seen some bright spots including taking all state-level offices, the first time the Democrats have controlled the governor, secretary of state, auditor, superintendent and attorney general positions at the same time since 1948 but also some disappointments, he said. McDonald said he hoped the state would vote for Obama in the general election, and he was disappointed the vote went for Sen. John McCain in the state, although it was close. He also said it was disappointing for the Democrats to lose its majority in the state Senate and to end up in a split House of Representatives. “It’s something I’ve thought a great deal about,” he said. The Democrats had many tough races, especially in the Senate, where Democrats term-limited out in areas that have become increasingly supportive of Republicans, McDonald said. He added that that should not be the case in upcoming state elections, and that he hopes the Democrats can make up for some lost ground.