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Standing in front of the Bozeman office of the Koch brothers’ Libertarian group Americans For Prosperity-Montana, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis attacked her Republican opponent’s record before laying out her plan to create jobs.

Just over a dozen supporters, including state legislative candidates Tom Woods and Jeannie Brown, cheered Curtis as she explained her seven-point jobs plan.

Curtis, 34, a Butte high school teacher, was chosen last month to replace Sen. John Walsh on the November ballot. Walsh dropped out of the race after admitting to plagiarizing his master’s paper at the Army War College.

Curtis, who faces long odds against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines in the election, said she has raised more than $300,000 since becoming the Democratic candidate on Aug. 16.

Koch Industries is the former Bozeman businessman’s second-largest campaign donor at $41,200, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. His largest donor is Elliot Management and third-largest donor is his former employer, Procter and Gamble.

“While working for Procter and Gamble, Congressman Daines helped open factories in China while his company closed factories here at home,” Curtis said to her supporters, who booed in response.

Daines, 52, did work in China, but P&G officials have denied that their factories in China came at the expense of American jobs and said that Daines was only a mid-level manager.

“I have a real jobs plan. It won’t fit on a bumper sticker or a political sign because, unlike Congressman Daines’ plan, it has real substance,” Curtis said.

Daines’ staff told the Chronicle it was ironic that Curtis was criticizing Daines in Bozeman, where he helped build RightNow technologies into one of the largest local employers.

“Montanans will have a choice in this election between Steve’s positive vision and his proven record of creating hundreds of good high paying jobs in Montana or that of Rep. Curtis’ extreme agenda that would destroy good paying jobs and grow the power and reach of the federal government in Washington, D.C.” said Jason Thielman, Daines’ campaign spokesman.

Curtis’ first point was to support tax cuts for small companies and provide them with greater access to capital.

However, during the 2013 state Legislature, Curtis voted against a bill — which ultimately passed and was signed by Gov. Steve Bullock — that eliminated equipment taxes for 17,000 businesses valued under $100,000.

Curtis’ second point is one being pushed by Democrats nationwide: eliminating tax breaks for companies that move overseas.

“That’s not OK,” Curtis said.

The Democrat’s plan included a promise to support manufacturing research and job training for veterans.

“If you’re licensed to drive a truck or an armored vehicle, you should not have to jump through hoops to get a commercial driver’s license back home,” she said.

Curtis said she would support small farmers by removing “red tape” that was adopted to regulate large agricultural corporations and promised to help Native Americans.

Finally, the schoolteacher said she strongly supports raising the minimum wage; she did not say to what amount.

“True economic growth comes from empowering everyone in the middle class, not from giving handouts to the men at the top,” Curtis said in an obvious reference to Daines.

When asked if she thought the federal government had a role in helping small businesses, Curtis said, “My economic philosophy is that we all do better when we all do better, and giving corporations tax breaks to ship jobs overseas isn’t helping anyone.”

Curtis and Daines will also compete with Libertarian candidate Roger Roots.

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Troy Carter can be reached at 582-2630 or on Twitter at @carter_troy.


Troy Carter covers politics and county government for the Chronicle.

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