The total number of candidates running for Montana’s open U.S. House seat jumped to seven today. That’s after Simms Democrat Matt Rains and Corvallis Republican Tim Johnson announced their candidacies.
Rain's slogan might be “As Independent as Montana,” but that’s not how he filed his paperwork with the Federal Elections Commision earlier this month.
“I mean, it wasn’t really a decision. I’m a Democrat,” he said.
A Democrat who, on Wednesday, joined former state legislator Kathleen Williams and state Representative Thomas Winter, in running for Montana’s lone House seat. The incumbent, Republican Greg Gianforte, announced he’s giving up his seat to run for governor.
And to Rains, that’s an opening to take on issues like meth use.
“You can’t criminalize these people,” he said. “We have to make sure that funding is available through Congress for the states so that there are facilities where they can go get care and to get that poison out of their system.”
Rains says drug users should be issued civil, not criminal offenses.
But his top issue? Like his fellow Democratic contenders, Rains has made affordable healthcare his top priority.
“It affects every single person I know,” He said. “People walk around with a fear of going to the hospital or buying prescription drugs and that shouldn't exist. We’ve got too much life to lead.”
Rains says he’s a fifth-generation Montanan and veteran, who served in Iraq and South Korea. He runs his family ranch in Simms, Montana where earlier this week, they harvested hay to feed their horses.
This weekend though, he’ll put the tractor away and head to the State Democratic Convention in Helena, where he’ll make his first public appearance.
Tim Johnson of Corvallis became the fourth Republican to announce a bid to replace current Congressman Greg Gianforte, who is not seeking reelection and is running for Governor.
Johnson is the only Republican in the U.S. House race who has never held elected public office.
The native Minnesotan arrived in Montana a decade ago and is currently the Superintendent of the Corvallis School District.
Johnson says his experience as a teacher and now an administrator in public education makes him stand out as a candidate.
“When you work in public education you begin to see a lot of layers to community dynamics, family dynamics, federal systems, state systems, legislative systems, policies, the legal court cases," he says. "There’s a lot of exposure to a lot of different things.”
Johnson declined to discuss his views on specific policies, saying he will do so once he kicks off his campaign July 18, in Hamilton.
The three other Republicans facing off for their party’s support include State Auditor Matt Rosendale, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, and Helena rancher and Lewis and Clark County Republican Chairman Joe Dooling.