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House candidates discuss 2010 race


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Tim Leeds Havre Daily News [email protected]

Local Democrats heard Saturday from two of three candidates who have announced their intention next year to run against incumbent fourth-term U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont. Missoula lawyer Tyler Gernant and Melville rancher Dennis McDonald both spoke during the Hill County Democratic Party's Harvest Day Dinner, held at the Eagles Club in Havre Saturday. Linda Gopher, who announced her intention last week to run as a Democrat in the election, did not attend the dinner. Gernant urged the Hill County Democrats to help unseat Rehberg. “We can kick a lazy congressman off of his couch,” he said. Gernant said his desire to run comes from his seeing a repeat of what happened to his family in the 1980s his family moved to Idaho when his father, a teacher in Missoula, was afraid he would lose his job through budget cuts and could find nothing in the state. He said he now is seeing the same thing happen to his friends, and he is unimpressed with what Rehberg has done to help the situation. He said he read an article last year where Rehberg's spokesman cited Rehberg sponsoring resolutions to congratulate Billings on its 125th anniversary and Carroll College for winning a national football championship as major achievements. “I think we could be doing more to create jobs,” he said. Gernant said he wants to do more for that, including working on simplifying the U.S. tax codes, which he said would make it easier for small businesses to create jobs, and completely redoing the federal budget process. He said Montana also has a “tremendous opportunity” to be at the forefront of the growing renewable energy industry. He said something needs to be done to help the economy when his great-grandfather settled near Whitetail, that was a thriving community. Now hardly anything is left, Gernant said. McDonald, who left the chairmanship of the Montana Democratic Party this summer to focus on his campaign, said Rehberg has a habit of voting against things in Washington, like the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and then taking credit for the acts. “In my neighborhood, that's like branding a calf you don't own,” McDonald said. McDonald said his experience he said his family failed in ranching twice, in Kansas and then in Montana, before he came back to Montana in 1972 to start ranching at Melville has taught him values he can use in Washington. He also cited his wo r k i n t h e Montana Stockgrowers Association, including serving as president, and in forming the political action committee R-CALF USA, including honesty, hard work and a commitment to his values. “Those are experiences I bring to the table,” he said. McDonald said he would use his experience to “create a climate in Montana where people don't have to leave just to find work.”


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