Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Alex Ross 

Hutchinson, Kassmier face off in primary - Darrold Hutchinson


Darrold Hutchinson

Darrold Hutchinson hopes to be on the November ballot in the race for the House District 27 seat in the Montana House of Representatives, but he will first need to win the Republican primary.

District 27 stretches from the Canadian border in Liberty and most of Hill counties west of Havre down to just outside Great Falls.

A farmer and aviator from north of Hingham, Hutchinson faces Joshua Kassmier, a crop adjuster and former Fort Benton mayoral candidate, in the June 5 Republican primary.

The winner will face Democrat Dan Nelsen, a retired school administrator who lives in Fort Benton, in November's general election.

Incumbent Jim O'Hara, R-Fort Benton, decided not to run for re-election but instead run in the Republican primary in a bid to unseat Chouteau County Commissioner Robert Pasha.

Hutchinson unsuccessfully ran for the Legislature in 2014 and 2016 and was an applicant for the Senate seat vacated by Kris Hansen of Havre when she left to become the chief legal counsel for Auditor Matt Rosendale. The commissioners appointed Russ Tempel of Chester to that seat.

Hutchinson said he decided late last year to run for the House after O'Hara told him that he was not going to seek re-election.

Hutchinson said he does not know of any big issues he wants to tackle if elected, but does want to look at overhauling the state's business equipment tax.

As a pilot in the aeriel spray industry, Hutchinson said, he had to learn about and abide by local, state and federal regulations. The ability to research and understand government regulations is experience Hutchinson said will be useful in the Legislature.

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.

Hutchinson said the state should look toward agriculture and more development of natural resources as a means to generate additional state revenue.

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

Hutchinson said he would not support renewing the expansion because he does not see how the state can afford it.

Bonding to pay for infrastructure projects is something Hutchinson said he would likely not support.

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

Hutchinson said he does not know if bonding is the best way to finance infrastructure projects. The state should pay for infrastructure when it has the money, he said.

Transfers of federal land within Montana to state or private ownership is something Hutchinson said he opposes. He said the state does not have the revenue or people with expertise needed to manage large swaths of federal land.

Hutchinson said he does not support the continuation of the 6 mill levy that helps fund the Montana University system. Before he could support the levy, Hutchinson said he would want to know what the university system's needs are and how they plan to spend the money.


Darrold Hutchinson

Born: Oct. 10, 1951; Gary, Indiana,

Education:  Burns High School in Burns, Wyoming, 1971; Bachelor of Science in vocational agriculture education from the University of Wyoming, 1976

Family: Mary Hutchinson, wife; three grown sons

Work history: Farmer, works for the U.S. Forest Service dropping flame retardant at wildfires; former aerial applicator, former teacher at Albin High School in Albin, Wyoming

Political experience: Was considered by the Cascade, Chouteau, Hill and Liberty County Commissions to finish out the term of Kris Hansen, R-Havre, in 2016. Republican primary candidate for the House District 27 in 2014 and 2016. Candidate for the Hill County Commission in the 1980s.


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