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House 2018 Montana Politics US Politics

Endorsement: John Heenan for Congress


I’ll echo what this site’s founder, Don Pogreba, and most party activists are saying: I will strongly support whichever candidate prevails in the Democratic primary election. It’s an exemplary field from which to choose, and Progreba makes some valid points in his endorsement of Grant Kier. There are endorsements for Kathleen Williams, too. Start here.


I am endorsing John Heenan in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives. While every Democrat believes they are progressive on any number of issues, a look at Heenan’s platform shows him leading the way on the progressive agenda that will benefit working-class Montanans.

    • John supports Medicare for All. The U.S. spends more on health care but with poorer outcomes than nearly every other developed nation. Each of those nations has some sort of single-payer health care system, similar to Medicare for All. A single-payer system has to be the future of health care in America.
    • John wants to get big money out of politics. He’ll fight to end Citizens United and reaffirm that corporations are not people. His actions speak even louder, though — his campaign will not accept corporate PAC money or corporate lobbyist money. He has also battled dark money interests in court (remember Republican state Rep. Art Wittich?).
    • As a consumer protection lawyer, he has always represented the little guy. As John says, “I’ve spent my entire law career helping people stand up against powerful banks, insurance companies and corporations.”

There are other qualifications, too, like his small business experience. He’s the owner of a neighborhood restaurant on Billings’ Westside. But being a business owner doesn’t mean he’s out-of-touch with the well-being of Montana families — he’ll advocate for living wage, workforce rights and public education  legislation.


That’s the big question. Rep. Greg Gianforte has the lowest approval ratings in Montana in a recent UM  Big Sky poll (after the Montana Legislature, that is). A Democrat can beat this guy.

Looking at the 2016 Democratic primary election, progressive Bernie Sanders beat moderate Hillary Clinton in Montana by a 16 percent margin — 65,156 to 55,805. There’s little data on how that would translate to the general election but it’s obvious that a progressive voice resonates. Voters lean toward an authentic candidate who doesn’t waffle, even if those principles don’t always align with that voter’s values.

Heenan got out early, raised money and put together a grassroots organization. He has an activist base ready to knock doors, make calls and do the grunt work.

There’s also the youth vote. The next generation wants a forward thinker who shares its vision. They will stay involved with a true progressive. These are the voters we need into bring into the fold.


Montana has progressive roots dating back to the labor movement in the Butte mines, to Western Montana’s logging camps and lumber mills, to the Montana’s Hi-Line farm-labor alliance. It has a strong women’s movement, too, from Jeanette Rankin to the 10,000 in attendance at last year’s Women’s March.

In these unsettling times, we need bold leadership. John Heenan will proudly advance Montana’s progressive Democratic tradition, which has taken some hits from millionaire carpetbaggers the last few election cycles. It’s time to take Montana back.

That’s why I’m endorsing John Heenan for the U.S. House of Representatives.


If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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