Let me start with the obvious. I will support any of the roster of Democrats running to unseat Greg Gianforte for Congress. That support does not solely derive from the fact that Mr. Gianforte has continued his assault on the truth as a member of Congress nor that his votes represent the worst of the Republican Party’s war against women, the poor, people of color, and the environment.
I will support whichever candidate comes out of the primary because the Democrats have put together an incredibly impressive collection of candidates who boast credentials and values that truly represent the people of our state, not just those who live in the bubble of the Yellowstone Club and the rarefied air of private jets.
This is the crucial year to defeat Mr. Gianforte. Special elections across country show that momentum has turned against the criminal cabal that has taken over the Republican Party, candidates for the House are historically most vulnerable during their first re-election bid, and Montanans have the chance to end–once and for all–Greg Gianforte’s political ambitions in Montana before he takes another chance to buy the governor’s seat. A recent poll shows almost 60% of Montanans don’t approve of Gianforte’s work in Congress.
This is our time to take back Pat William’s seat, and I believe that Grant Kier is the best candidate to accomplish that task.
There are those who would argue that Mr. Kier is not the most progressive candidate in this race, but I think that argument rests on a narrow definition of what it means to be progressive. In the hours after the Parkland tragedy, Kathleen Williams offered the most progressive voice on the need for sensible gun policy, John Heenan has offered the most progressive take on healthcare, and Kier has offered the most progressive takes on climate change, environmental stewardship, and public accountability from elected officials.
And none of the candidates has his progressive record on public lands, a position that will certainly offer critical contrast with a multimillionaire who blocked Montanans from accessing what he seemed to think was his own private water.
All of those are progressive issues that matter, and each of the candidates running can honestly say that s/he is the most progressive on one issue or another. More important than staking about progressive rhetoric, though, is the dire need for progress, for finding ways to advance legislation that protects the interests of Montanans, and I believe that Grant Kier is best-positioned to work in Congress from the first day and get things done.
To succeed in turning Congress into an institution that works for the people, not against them, we need representatives who are willing to build coalitions and navigate a complex sea of competing interests. That’s just what Grant Kier has done for his entire career, including the past ten protecting public lands and negotiating complex solutions at the Five Valleys Land Trust.
It feels good to promise to punch Republicans in the face; it feels even better to get legislation passed that gets kids healthcare.
More than anything, I want a candidate who can, while protecting progressive values, work to improve the lives of Montanans and try to restore the spirit of collective work for the collective good in our government. Grant Kier best fits that bill.
I’m also convinced that Kier best understands the needs of Montanans who live in poverty, people who are simply far too often ignored in our political debates. He speaks movingly of his experience as a child growing up with a single mother who struggled to make ends meet and his answers to our questionnaire about poverty reveal a candidate who knows that poverty is not just a policy problem, but a slow-moving daily crisis for those who have to make choices between school supplies and lunch and medication or rent.
What sealed my endorsement, though, is that Kier understands that today he’s much more privileged than many Montanans. As I talked with candidates and considered my endorsement, I kept coming back to a moment at the forum in Helena when Kier, answering a question about the rights of LGBTQ Montanans, explicitly acknowledged the privilege he experiences today and promised to work to ensure that the government did everything it could to help people “feel safe in their body and safe to love whomever they want.”
That wasn’t just the voice of a candidate who will work to protect the LGBTQ community, but the voice of a candidate who knows that many of us enjoy privilege, economic security, and even bodily safety that others don’t–and who knows that government should stop putting the interests of the former ahead of the latter. That moment wasn’t a candidate rattling of talking points; it was a moment of authenticity that surprised even this jaded political observer and the kind of sincerity that Kier will bring to the campaign trail this fall.
That combination, of a progressive and a pragmatist, an idealist and problem solver, is exactly the kind of candidate who will expose Greg Gianforte for the cruel, venal, self-interested plutocrat that he so clearly is.
We can win this race. We have a slate of candidates with impressive resumes and heartfelt values. For this writer, the best candidate to win the seat and represent us well is Grant Kier.