Kathleen Williams, Sun A1 Portrait

Democrat Kathleen Williams of Bozeman is making her second bid for the U.S. House.

National Democrats think they have a chance to take over Montana’s lone U.S. House seat.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added Montana's congressional district to the list of 39 it’s targeting in 2020, bringing national attention to the campaign of Bozeman resident and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams.

The group, a subsidiary of the Democratic Party, is working to to expand the party’s majority in the House by supporting campaigns across the country. Williams said she hopes the group’s recognition will add momentum to her campaign.

“I’m proud that there’s a national group that’s recognizing the strength of our campaign and also the fact that Montanans vote for the person, so it’s not necessarily a party kind of decision for people,” Williams said Thursday.

Williams first ran for the U.S. House seat in 2018, winning a higher percentage of the vote than any Democrat seeking the seat since 2000. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Bozeman Republican, beat her 51% to 46%. Gianforte is running for governor in 2020.

“Given that this is now an open seat, the quality of the Democrats running and how close Democrats have come before in 2018, the (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) is excited to expand our focus to include Montana,” said spokesperson Andy Orellana via email.

Two other Democrats have announced campaigns for Montana’s House seat — state Rep. Tom Winter and rancher and veteran Matt Rains. Williams, who worked for more than three decades in natural resources policy and served three terms in the state House, said her policy experience and the outreach she did across the state for her last campaign will help her win the Democratic primary.

The Republicans running are State Auditor Matt Rosendale, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, Corvallis Superintendent Timothy Alan Johnson and Lewis and Clark County Republican Party Chair Joe Dooling.

By July, when candidates released their second-quarter fundraising reports, Williams had raised $430,000 — more than double what any other candidate for either party had raised.

“I know how to put people over party and policy over politics,” she said.

Williams’ campaign is focusing on making health care affordable, protecting public lands and the environment and bolstering the economy by protecting ranchers and bringing high-wage jobs to Montana.

She plans to spend the next 15 months traveling the state listening to voters, so she can craft legislation that will benefit them instead of special interest groups.

“It’s just story after story that I can’t leave behind,” she said. “Those stories deserve to be acted on in Congress. It’s been too long that we have had people that aren’t serving us well.”

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at pstein@dailychronicle.com. Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

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