Montana Democrats present diverse coalition of candidates for 2018 election

Montana Democrats contend that six years of Republican control of the Legislature has led to irresponsible fiscal policies that ignored calls for a balanced budget and a rainy day fund. (Photo by Stan Parker)

A crop of women, Native American and youthful hopefuls attended the state Capitol on Thursday to file as candidates in a field that Democrats hope will bring gains for the party in the Legislature this election season.

Though the election is still 11 months away, Montana Democrats believe they’ve recruited a strong and diverse field of applicants across 15 Senate districts and 60 House districts to compete in races this November.

“Democrats stand united in our commitment to fight for working Montana families because we are working Montanans,” state Rep. Jenny Eck, the House Democratic leader, said in a statement Thursday. “With this great slate of candidates in 2018, we’re fighting to take back the people’s Legislature and make sure all Montanans – not just a few very wealthy individuals – can achieve a brighter and fairer future.”

Democrats contend that six years of Republican control of the Legislature has led to irresponsible fiscal policies that ignored calls for a balanced budget and a rainy day fund.

They also contend that GOP leadership resulted in the first special legislative session since 2007. Messages left for Patrick Webb, executive director of the Montana Republican Party, weren’t returned Thursday.

Coupled with President Donald Trump’s 40-percent job approval rating and the GOP’s controversial tax reform bill, among other legislation, Democrats are looking to make national gains.

In the recent off-year elections, the party picked up the governor’s office in New Jersey and 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. It also flipped a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama.

“Across the country and across Montana, grassroots energy has inspired people to stand up and take action,” said Sen. Jen Gross, D-Billings. “We have the wind at our backs, and Democrats will make gains in 2018 because Montanans have a clear choice between one party that embraces the diversity of this state and one that denies it.”

Democrats claim to have recruited 80 candidates to file in this year’s election. On Thursday, 40 women, 13 Native Americans and 14 candidates under the age of 35 attended the state Capitol to file for election.