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Stutz keeps his eye on November election

Democratic Congressional candidate Rob Stutz had six opponents when he attended Denise Juneau's announcement that she would run for re-election as superintendent of public instruction at noon Tuesday.

By Tuesday night, he was at the Havre Daily News, talking to reporters about his race.

"Now there are eight, maybe more are coming," he said.

More people seem interested in jumping into the race for the Democratic nod to succeed Dennis Rehberg, who is running for the U. S. Senate.

But Stutz is not focused on his opponents in the June primary, many of whom he has worked with on various projects. Instead, he's looking at the general election, where he says he has a campaign plan to take on Republican candidate Steve Daines, a Bozeman businessman.

"Steve Daines says he's a Montanan, he says he's a businessman, not a career politician," said Stutz, who hopes to succeed Dennis Rehberg, R-Billings, who is running for the Senate.

"I'm a Montanan, I'm a businessman, not a career politician," Stutz continued.

He wants to see Democrats take back the seat Republicans have held since Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont., retired in 1994.

"People who can vote this year were born in 1994," he said. "We have lost a generation."

Stutz was born at Camp Lajune, N.C., where his father was in the Maine Corps. He moved to Montana when he was 2, and lived in Billings, Red Lodge and Helena over the years, and spent some time in Germany and Lebanon when his mother was in the foreign service.

He worked for the Montana Department of Justice, the Montana School Boards Association, and the U. S. Department of Education. He was named the chief legal counsel for the 2011 Montana Legislature, a bipartisan post that provided legal services to the lawmakers.

It was there, he said, that he became concerned when he saw lawmakers introduce legislation that was contrary to the U. S. and Montana constitutions.

"I decided what our country needs is elected officials responsible to the people," he said.

As a result, he is not taking contributions from political action committees and corporate interests.

He said his campaign would not spend money on highly paid political consultants to tell him what Montanans think.

"I know what they think," he said. "I talk to them."

Nor will he sign any pledges to support any particular legislation.

He is a strong supporter of the Montana Supreme Court's decision to overturn the U. S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which allows for "super PACs" to fund campaigns at least nominally separate from candidates' campaigns.

On other topics:

  • He said short-term stimulus programs can help create jobs. He pointed to the recent grant to Montana State University-Northern's bio-fuels program. Stutz said the grant will create jobs and help area farmers.
  • He said his top priority will be "to bring our troops home from Afghanistan."

"We asked the troops to do a tough job," he said. "They did it well. Let's bring them home."

  • He said he favors a single-payer form of national health insurance. It would provide quality health care and would eliminate red tape that keeps costs high.

Stutz said he is frequently asked about his youth — he's 40 — and his lack of experience in elected office.

He pointed to several Montana legislators who have had similar youth:

  • U. S. Rep. Jeanette Rankin was 36 when first elected.
  • Sen. Max Baucus was 32 when elected to the House.
  • Rep. Pat Williams was 41 when elected to the House.
  • Sen. Mike Mansfield was 39 when elected to the Senate.


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