Featured House 2018 Kathleen Williams Montana Politics

Everyone Needs to Play for Team Kathleen

After I first met him in fall of last year, I believed John Heenan could prevail over Greg Gianforte in this year’s general election. He is a man with a good soul who also could absorb and punch back at the Republican noise machine. Heenan assembled an amazing campaign team, with a different idea of how to run a statewide race, and surrounded himself with national experts. He did all the right things. He raised a ton of money. He toured the state. He was gaining steam as the candidate with the resume and best fit to take on the wealthy criminal in an election that by late summer should be about combatting corruption.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the primary.

After a shaky start, Kathleen Williams found her groove. It is a good groove and I will freely admit to admiring her chops the past several months and surrounding herself with an immensely talented staff. She did not raise a ton of money but she spent it where it counted. She was the campaign equivalent of the Millennium Falcon. (“She may no look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”–Han Solo)

Now she is our candidate. Our. There is no question about this.

We collectively face the most emergent threat to American democracy in centuries. There is an authoritarian rise on one side of the American body politic and a seeming unease about what to do about this on another. The more we pause, the more we question what is the right approach, the more we allow them to distract us, the more dangerous this becomes. The more unity we can show, the less cracks to split us apart.

The differences between the Democratic candidates were minuscule and the election results showed that. They ran a clean campaign and all of the candidates should be proud.In a nod to that, Ms. Williams should adopt some of the positions the other candidates campaigned on. Most specifically, I would like the one who so bravely stood for sane weapons regulations that will make our kids and neighbors far safer to take a similar stand on an issue that will make even more people healthy and wealthy: Medicare for All. Her “underwear gnome” (click the link if you need an explainer) “White Paper” does not suffice for the people who understand the need and she will be crucified by a GOP who see they can tie her in knots on it. This general election cycle needs to be about BIG BOLD ideas and framing Medicare for All as a policy that lets people get out poverty and into the middle class will work given Montana’s success with expansion. A program, notably, she helped pass. It’s just a softball floating in the air, waiting for her swing.

She cannot back down on her “Fearless” opposition to the NRA and stance for stronger weapons regulations. This combat veteran has her back every step of the way. We all should as well. This is not an issue to shy away from, it is about the safety of our children and neighbors. The GOP will try to distract the threat using a Central American gang called MS-13 that has no presence in Montana. It certainly has never presented as much of a threat as these mass shootings that are multiplying close to our own borders.

Williams can win. But she needs all of us. Let’s go.

(P.S.: If every campaign commercial could be as amazing as the one she did when it counted, it will be a wash. Seriously, this one of the best campaign ads ever.)

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Josh Manning

Josh Manning is a combat veteran who lives in Helena. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Time and Newsweek and he has appeared on MSNBC and CNN. He was a primary researcher to the recently published New York Times bestseller "The Plot to Destroy Democracy" by MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance. You can follow him on Twitter @joshuamanning23

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