Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Alex Ross 

Republicans face off in Senate District 14 - Lotton


Brad Lotton

After years of helping with many Republican campaigns, Brad Lotton is running his own as he mounts a primary challenge against an incumbent state senator.

Lotton, owner of Lotton Construction in Havre and finance director of the Hill County Republican Central Committee, faces Sen. Russ Tempel, R-Chester, in the June 5 Republican primary. The winner will take on Democrat and Bear Paw Development Corp. Executive Director Paul Tuss of Havre in the general election.

District 14 extends from the Canadian border in Liberty County down to just above Great Falls to just east of Havre.

Tempel was selected in December 2016 by the county commissions in the senate district to fill the seat after state Sen. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, resigned from the Senate to move to Helena and accept the job of chief legal counsel to Montana Auditor Matthew Rosendale.

The names of Lotton and Darrold Hutchinson, a farmer and aviator from north of Hingham, were also submitted to the commissioners by the Cascade, Chouteau and Hill County Republican central committees.

Lotton said he has thought about running for the state Legislature for a long time and now that he is semi-retired he has time to do it.

Lotton said if elected he wants to work to cut spending and lower Montana's high worker's compensation rates.

Decades as a business owner who has made payroll and maintained a budget is useful experience, Lotton said, that will help him in the Legislature.

Lotton said he considers the state to just be a larger business.

Less-than-expected tax revenue and a historically bad fire season led to a budget shortfall that was the top issue during the 2017 legislative session. Lawmakers made cuts to state agencies to balance the state budget, first during the regular legislative session and then again during a special session in October.

Lotton said he doesn't think the state needs to increase revenue and if departments cut excessive spending the state will have adequate revenue. He said that the Montana Auditor reduced it's office's budget by 25 percent and that should serve as a model for others.

Montana's Medicaid expansion is set to sunset next year unless the Legislature votes in the next legislative session to keep the expansion in place.

The expansion is an unfunded liability the state cannot afford to continue, Lotton said.

People who truly need Medicaid should have access to it, but the state also needs to take people off of it who abuse the system, he said.

Bonding to pay for infrastructure projects is something Lotton said he would be willing to consider, but he is reluctant to put the state into debt.

Lawmakers fell short of the two-thirds of votes needed in each house of the Legislature to move forward with an infrastructure bill that includes bonding.

Bonding should not be used and the state should not fund projects like the renovation of Montana State University's Romney Hall, Lotton said. Renovations for the building had been included in infrastructure bills in the 2015 and 2017 legislative sessions.

Ownership of federal lands within Montana should not be transferred to the state or to private interests, but more local control of decisions related to those lands is needed, Lotton said. He said the federal government makes it difficult for timber to be harvested on those lands, and the state could generate revenue through natural resources on that land, he said.

Voters will decide this November whether to continue a 6 mill levy that for decades has helped fund the Montana University system.

Lotton said that he probably will vote against continuing the mill levy. Though he said that he is for adequately funding the university system and Montana State University-Northern has a major positive impact locally he is against having to vote repeatedly for a mill levy that is a short-term fix for the university system.

The way the university system is funded needs to be overhauled so voters don't have to vote repeatedly for a mill levy request, Lotton said.


Brad Lotton, Havre, Republican candidate for Senate District 14

Born: Jan. 18,1955, Havre

Education: Graduated from Box Elder High School, 1973, went to Northern Montana College for a year, came back to take some business classes, no college degree

Family: Divorced, two deceased children  

Work history: Owner of Lotton Construction, former truck driver and worked for a few contractors 

Political experience: Finance director of the Hill County Republican Central Committee, former central committee chair.


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