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Republican candidates for Congress have debate in Havre

Four of eight candidates participate in debate focused on ag and rural Montana

From Montana Farmers Union

Republican candidates for Montana's District 2 Congressional seat squared off during a live debate Tuesday at Montana State University-Northern in Havre, tackling issues related to agriculture and rural communities.

"For more than 100 years, Montana Farmers Union has represented the family farm and brought educational opportunities like this debate this evening to Montanans so they can make an educated vote," said Walter Schweitzer, president of Montana Farmers Union.

The nonpartisan grassroots organization sponsored the debate that focused on ag and rural Montana.

Republican candidates Kyle Austin, Ken Bogner, Ric Holden, and Joel Krautter attended and thanked MFU for sponsoring the debate and offering an opportunity to share their stances with Montanans.

Dennis Rehberg was also invited but declined to participate. Troy Downing, Elsie Arntzen, and Stacy Zinn initially confirmed but withdrew within 24 hours of the debate.

The candidates who participated in the debate are clearly knowledgeable about agriculture and rural Montana," Schweitzer said, adding that a lack of participation by other candidates shows a lack of interest in rural Montana.

The candidates differed on priorities, with Austin looking to provide a louder lifelong Montana voice to Congress, Bogner focused on immigration and border security, Holden focused on developing coal, oil, and natural gas, and Krautter looking to bring a new brand of leadership to Congress to work for progress instead of focusing on fanfare.

While they differed on how they would address many issues, the Republican candidates agreed issues impacting rural Montana, including inflation, immigration and corporate consolidation, need to be addressed. They also agreed that mandatory Country of Origin Labeling would create clarity for consumers and fair prices for producers and that increasing access to health care needs to be a priority.

The debate participants also agreed a strong Farm Bill that protects programs beneficial to producers is needed, with Austin calling the bill the "backbone" of Montana and several candidates advocating for a Competition Title.

Tuesday's debate was the first of two District 2 Congressional Primary debates hosted by Montana Farmers Union as part of the organization's commitment to education. Friday, Democratic candidates for the District 2 seat will square off in front of a live audience at 7 p.m. at the CMR High School auditorium. Both debates are open to the public and are streamed live on SWX Montana and Northern News Network.

Learn more about the debates, including how to view them, at

The debates will be televised again FOX on May 4, with the Democratic candidates debate at 11 a.m. and the Republican candidates debate at noon.

Listeners can also hear the debates on KULR May 5, with the Democratic candidates debate airing at 11 a.m. and the Republican candidates debate at noon.

Tuesday's debate also is available online at


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