Kathleen Williams, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House, says the government is close to broken. But instead of continuing to grouse about the hyper-partisanship in Congress, she says she wants to try to fix the problem.
That wouldn't be the first time.
Williams remembers being upset after the 2007 Montana Legislature adjourned after failing to pass a budget. She says instead of staying home and doing nothing but complaining, she decided to run for the Montana Legislature. Williams says it's part of her personality.
"My history, my upbringing has always been don’t complain," she says. "If you’re going to grouse about something then step forward and offer a solution."
As a result, she served three terms in the Montana Legislature in 2011, ’13 and ’15. Republicans held the majority in both chambers during all of those sessions and Williams was the Democratic vice chair of the House Taxation Committee in 2015 and vice chair of the House Agriculture Committee in 2013.
Williams says she knows how to successfully shepherd bills through even though her party is in the minority.
"(I have) the ability to read the political landscape to be able to work with people to find common interests and understanding and to be successful with legislation when you’re in the minority," Williams says. "There’s a real learning experience with that and there’s a real trick and temperament and relationship building."
She says Montana's special election for the U.S. House was her tipping point to jump into the 2018 U.S. House race.
Governor Steve Bullock set the May 25, 2017 election date to fill the vacancy created when then-Congressman Ryan Zinke resigned to become President Donald Trump's U.S. Interior Secretary. Republican Greg Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist 50-44% .
Williams says she was disappointed Gianforte assaulted Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs on the day before that election. She says there was a lack of civility, a lack of respect for journalism, and a lack of the ability to talk about issues.
Williams feels she will be able to temper the hyper-partisanship and the lack of experience. She points to doing that in the Montana Legislature and wants to do the same in Congress, "by leading by example and building relationships across the aisle."
Williams says her background working in D.C. and as associate director for the nonprofit Western Landowners Alliance round out her background to be a better representative for Montana.
"Have lobbyists work for us rather than the other way around," Williams says. "And I just feel those are skills that are sort of honed by fire but are exactly what we need in Washington."
To do that, Williams will first have to win the crowded Democratic primary in June. Other who have also declared their candidacy are
- former state legislator Lynda Moss of Billings
- current state Representative Tom Woods of Bozeman
- Billings Attorney John Heenan
- former Five Valleys Land Trust Director Grant Kier
- Whitefish attorney Jared Pettinato.
All are vying to challenge first term Republican Greg Gianforte on next fall’s general election ballot.