Weighing in on the Democratic Congressional Primary
Jen Gross is a Montana State Senator from Billings.
You can find her on Facebook here: Jen Gross for Montana
Today, Jen Gross, issued the following endorsement of John Heenan:
Recently I was asked to weigh in on the Democratic Congressional Primary. I was also asked not to weigh in.
As a state senator I am no stranger to the pressure of competing interests. For me, these questions are about one thing only. How do I best serve Montanans?
I am backing John Heenan for Congress, and here’s why.
The decision to endorse one candidate from a field of five was made with due diligence. My decade-long background in campaigns and elections informed my process, and for me, choosing to endorse in a Primary was both a heart decision and a strategic decision.
First I needed to know the candidates share my values as a Montanan and as a Democrat by reaching out to them one-on-one. On a heart level, I know we would be well represented by any of the candidates. But when it comes to winning, it is one thing to have your heart in the right place. It is quite another to accomplish something Democrats in Montana have not done in 25 years.
Enter the calculus.
In 2016 Democrats in Montana lost all but one office statewide, and we sustained a net loss of three seats in the State Legislature. Trump won Montana by 20 points and we lost the U.S. House by 18 points. Yet less than six months later in a Special Election, Democrat Rob Quist lost to Greg Gianforte by 6 points, coming closer than any Democratic congressional candidate in nearly two decades.
This year we are up against incumbent Gianforte, the wealthiest member of the United States Congress and a bona fide convicted criminal in the state of Montana. I know that for Democratic candidates to be successful in Montana, they must start early. They must come out of the gate strong, building their teams, raising money and securing support from key stakeholders. I have been watching carefully as this process unfolds.
This is what I see.
John Heenan is the only candidate who is “barnstorming” the state in the spirit of the old Farm Team. He is making eastern and rural Montana a priority, visiting communities from Miles City to Missoula to Polson. He is earning support from Montanans of all stripes the old-fashioned way: by meeting people face-to-face, listening to their ideas, hearing their concerns, and offering bold solutions.
The Heenan campaign is already putting boots on the ground, enlisting volunteers and building a ground game to turn out voters in November. An unabashedly progressive agenda differentiates him from the other primary candidates. He is not accepting PAC money, and he is outraising his opponents.
John is one of us. He is a small business owner and a lawyer who has taken on big banks and insurance companies that prey on vulnerable Montanans. He is from Billings. Yellowstone County is critical on a statewide election map, and the Heenan campaign is headquartered here. John’s populist profile is fit for a statewide race.
I have a vested interest in seeing Democrats elected up and down the ballot this year.
Senator Jon Tester is at the top of the ticket defending a seat Republicans see as vulnerable. Dark money has already started pouring into the state to unseat our Farmer-Senator. Democrats are poised to make gains in the Legislature and candidates are starting early on their own campaigns. Voter turnout will be key for all of us.
Turnout is low in midterm years, and notoriously difficult for Democrats. When people don’t feel inspired by a candidate, they simply don’t vote. A progressive populist at the top of the ticket will motivate the base of voters who will vote for Democrats from the top of ballot all the way down.
Senator Tester, legislative candidates, and the Democratic Party are working hard to build campaigns that will drive voter turnout. Our congressional candidates are working hard, too, yet lack the benefit of coordinated early efforts to build strong systems that allow them to connect with more voters.
Early support for the candidate who can beat Gianforte on November 6 is necessary. That candidate is John Heenan and that is why I am proud to endorse him as the next Congressman for Montana.
John Heenan for Congress John Heenan #MTpol #MTal #HeenanForThePeople