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Williams comes to Havre campaigning for 2020


April 10, 2019

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Kathleen Williams, center, speaks to, from left, Virginia Wells, Jack Trethewey, Val Murri and Grace Bailey during a visit Tuesday at Triple Dog Brewing Co. in Havre.

U.S. House of Representative candidate Kathleen Williams was in Havre Tuesday at Triple Dog Brewing Co. speaking to community members about her campaign for the 2020 election.

"I love this state and I enjoy getting out and meeting new people and seeing what they care about," she said.

Williams lost a campaign for Montana's U.S. House seat in 2018 against incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., who was elected to the seat during a special election in 2017.

Williams said that she started Friday in Billings, traveling to Miles City, Glendive and Glasgow before coming to Havre. She plans next to travel to Whitefish, Missoula, Great Falls, Helena, Butte and Bozeman, she said.

Williams said that in 2020 one of the biggest issues facing the country will be health care and the regulation of prescription drugs. In 2018, health care was a big issue for her, she said, but now elements of health care such as pre-existing conditions and prescription drugs are highly disputed.

Prescription drugs are extremely expensive, she said, and pharmaceutical companies are one of the biggest, most powerful lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

"We just have to do something," she said.

She said she will still be advocating for people 55 and older to be able to buy into Medicare and hopes to use that as a national discussion point.

She said people can spend a lifetime talking about health care.

"It's still the most broad, most urgent, most deeply held issue," Williams said.

Williams said that she has the experience to work on the issue and is not afraid of taking on special interests and working on big issues.

Tariffs and agricultural trade are other issues Williams said are major in Montana.

She said that when she first heard about President Donald Trump's aluminum tariffs, she wondered how the president has the authority over tariffs. That is a policy that should be handled in Congress. She said that, over many years, Congress has given their responsibility of trade policy to the executive branch.

"I keep saying that Congress is broken, that is one area that it is broken," she said.

Williams said the country is going through trade policy "with a sledge hammer rather than a scalpel."

She added that the U.S. has legitimate issues with China's policies but she doesn't think the issues need to put farmers and ranchers in the cross hairs.

"It's insane," she said. "It's hard enough to make a living in agriculture without all of this increased volatility."

She said she decided to run again after reflecting on her experiences in the past year.

One eye-opening experience after the election, she said, was when she spoke to a high school and asked the students if anyone would consider running for election in the future. None of the students said they would.

She said she had been applying for jobs, mainly in working for non-profits or in civic education, due to what she had heard from people while on the campaign trail. She wanted to help with some of the issues she had heard about, Williams said.

She said she made her final decision to run again for the House seat after speaking with a friend. She was telling the friend about a job interview she had done where she thought the position would be a good fit for her.

"I listened to myself saying that the job was probably the perfect group, culmination of my career," Williams said. "But I still wasn't ready to take it, and what I determined was that meant that I needed to do this again."

She said she believes she has a strong responsibility to Montana and has built so much since last time it would be a shame not to continue down the campaign trail.

"You worked so hard to build that, so many other people worked so hard," she said.

Williams said many people helped her lay down a strong foundation last year. Her campaign came so close to winning the election that she believes if she had more time, she can win in 2020, Williams said.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

In 2018, Gianforte received 51 percent of the vote, Williams received 46 percent and Libertarian candidate Elinor Swanson received 3 percent.

By starting early she will have more time to speak to Montanans, she said. Last year, people were really responding to discussions about representing all of Montana, not just special interests. And after speaking with people and considering her own experience, she is committed to solving the big issues which face the country and the state, she said.

"I'll have more time," she said, "more time to talk to Montanans and win them over, but also more time to develop a more strategic and sane approach to a schedule and hopefully raise money early."


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