Donald Richman and Douglas Stuart are running for the Republican nomination.
Incumbent Craig Tilleman, R-Havre — appointed to replace Sen. Rowlie Hutton, R-Havre, who resigned — is not running for re-election.
There will be no Democratic primary, as candidate Greg Jergeson is unopposed.
Douglas Stuart: Offers message of jobs, opportunity
A candidate for the state Senate said he believes he offers a different message than his opponents, with views on how to bring opportunities to the state.
“I hesitate to say I am the best (candidate), ” said Harlem businessman Douglas Stuart, a Republican candidate for Senate District 17 in Blaine and Hill counties “I think I offer nice contrast. I’m out there with a message on jobs and opportunity.
“I think I bring a real interesting life experience to the privilege of serving, ” he added.
Stuart faces Harlem insurance agency owner Donald Richman in the Republican primary next week.
The winner will face Democrat Greg Jergeson, who is running unopposed in the primary, in November’s general election.
Stuart talked about a diverse background that gave him his life experiences, starting with being born in and spending his early youth in Havre.
His family then moved to his grandmother’s ranch on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, where he worked including managing the operation.
While he attended the universities in Bozeman and Missoula, he did not graduate from those colleges. He, later in life, was accepted into a graduate program and has received three master’s degrees and completed coursework in another master’s program as well as on a doctorate, all in the fields of business and economic development.
He said one of his most valuable experiences was his membership in the National Farmers Organization, including serving on its national board, which not only increased his knowledge but his contacts with farmers and ranchers across the Hi-Line and the nation.
Stuart is the founder and chief executive officer of Big Sky Global LLC, described on its website as a wholly Native American-owned information technology search consulting firm.
Stuart said the state can take action to protect and increase opportunity.
“This country has provided a lot of opportunity, both at the state level and the national level, but we seem to be moving in a direction where opportunity is becoming less.
“It’s so important that people who really want to work hard have the ability to move up and have opportunity to do better, ” he added. “I think we can reinvigorate opportunity for every working family by developing more oil and gas and working harder to bring more value-added agribusiness (to communities). ”
He said his three top points are improving the economy and job situation, the state budget and a liability in state pension funds, and developing a state energy policy that would provide energy independence.
Stuart said Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota could make the nation energy independent, if the resources are developed responsibly. Part of that should be building new refineries in Montana, he said.
“I really think we should look at that, ” he said.
The energy policy should include more pragmatic permitting processes and provide more to the communities where the development occurs to help them deal with the growth.
He said a bipartisan bill was proposed in the 2007 Legislature to give more money back to those communities, and it should be looked at again.
“These are some things we can do to really help communities on the impact of (the growth), ” Stuart said.
He said an honest discussion of the state’s budget needs to take place. While the state has a large budget surplus at the moment, it also has billions in unfunded future retirement obligations in the teachers and public employees pension funds, Stuart said.
He said the state also needs to look at the fact that 41 cents of every dollar the state government spends comes from the federal government, which is trying to deal with a massive revenue deficit.
“If we accept the fact that the federal government technically is broke and they’re printing money, how dependable is that 41 cents? ” Stuart asked.
On agriculture, more needs to be done to promote value-added products, he said, citing as an example work done at Montana State University-Northern including a patent-pending process to manufacture jet fuel from camelina.
While many other projects can be brought into communities that will create business and job opportunities, “We really do have to protect our agribusiness sector and build on that as much as possible …, ” Stuart said. “We just have to be open-minded and have the same kind of imagination that they did at the college. It’s not impossible, we’ll just make it happen. ”
Donald Richman: Business experience, a desire to serve
Donald Richman, Republican candidate for the state Senate, said his desire to continue to serve, and his experience in business make him the best candidate for the seat in Senate District 17 in Blaine and Hill counties.
“I was born and raised in this district. I’ve lived here all my life. I feel I’m at the age where I can back out of my business responsibilities a little bit and give of my time to make this a better place to live …, ” Richman said. “I’m a Vietnam veteran, I served my country to protect our freedoms, and I think that’s still important, and I still want to serve. Montana is still the best state in the union, and I just think there are some things we can do to keep it that way. ”
Richman, a 30-year insurance agent from Harlem, said the key issues for him, if elected, are fighting abortion, protecting gun rights and preparing the state for the spread of oil and natural gas development.
He faces Harlem businessman Douglas Stuart in the Republican primary next week.
The winner will face Democrat Greg Jergeson, who is unopposed in the primary, in November’s general election.
Richman, a 1967 graduate of Harlem High School, attended Northern Montana College, now Montana State University-Northern, for one semester before enlisting in the military and serving three years in the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged to go back to college.
He married his high school sweetheart, Rita, and they have been married 42 years.
Richman attended Northern for the next few years, but treatment of injuries and illnesses from his service in Vietnam kept disrupting his education. He went to work as a salesman in the Harlem area before going to work at his father’s John Deere implement dealership until that business closed.
Richman then went to work for a local insurance agency, eventually buying out the owners and taking over the business.
That 32 years of business experience managing the agency is one of the reasons Richman said his serving would benefit the state.
“I’ve seen what happens if you spend more than you bring in, ” he said. “It’s not a pleasant situation, and I think our government, especially our federal government, but our state, at times, we seem to think that money grows on trees.
“So, I think my business background has got to be a positive for the state, ” Richman said.
One of his top items, if elected, would be to make sure the state is ready for the sprawl of growth from energy development, especially from oil development in the Bakken formation in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, he said.
“We need somebody somebody that’s proactive enough to realize that this thing’s going to come all the way across the state, and we better be ready for it, ” Richman said.
He said he believes the growth from oil development will end up affecting everyone in Montana.
“You read about all the problems that North Dakota is having with the mancamps and the sewers, the highways, the oil roads, and let’s learn a lesson here, ” he said. “Let’s sit back and watch them, and we see what’s happened there. Let’s do something about it and be prepared. ”
Another of his top issues is abortion.
“One of the major reasons I ran always is, I have always felt, and still feel, that at some time we’re all going to answer to God for allowing all these abortions, and I will fight abortions with every ounce of my being, ” he said.
And another issue always at the top of his agenda is fighting for gun rights, Richman said.
“I absolutely do not believe the government should be allowed to register your guns or anything else, ” he said. “They’re my guns. ”
In the interview and on his website Richman quoted gun rights champion Charlton Heston.
“The only way they’re going to get my guns is to pry them out of my cold, dead hands …, ” he said. “The Second Amendment was a right that was granted to me all the way back when our Constitution was written, and I just don’t think anything has changed to take that right away. ”