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One can’t read the news coming out of Washington without concluding that our national discourse has devolved into a blood sport. Extreme members of Congress have become so locked into rigid ideologies, compromise is nearly impossible and paralysis has set in. Only voters can change this – by sending more moderate representatives and senators to Washington.

Kathleen Williams is just such a moderate.

Williams, a Democrat, is facing incumbent Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte. Williams has a long record of working in the Montana Legislature, both as a staff member and as three-term representative from Bozeman. During that time, she demonstrated a willingness to work with legislators from both parties to find common ground on important issues. The list of bills she has sponsored and cosponsored is long. Her professional and educational background in water science made her instrumental in the passage of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact, which was essential to preserving water rights for many Montana farmers.

She is smart and thoughtful and appears to us to have the even-keeled temperament lacking from many who currently serve in Congress. Williams’ detractors maintain that she favors “open borders” and would put the Second Amendment at risk. Careful voters will know those claims lack credibility.

Gianforte won the seat in a special election in 2017 after it was vacated by Ryan Zinke. Prior to that election, this editorial board declined to endorse either Gianforte or his challenger, Democrat Rob Quist, reasoning that we saw flaws in both candidates.

Many of our conclusions about Gianforte at that time still hold true today. He is intelligent and well spoken and his efforts to improve the Bozeman economy through his founding of RightNow Technologies cannot be overstated. We are also persuaded by his recent support of legislation that would permanently ban mining near Yellowstone National Park.

Despite those conclusions, we still have concerns about his ability or interest to represent those outside of his core constituency. For instance, during his short tenure he has proposed lifting wilderness study area designation from some 700,000 acres of public lands in Montana without proposing permanent wilderness designation for any of those areas. To us, that screams of an ideology lacking in any semblance of compromise.

We also cannot discount that Gianforte’s tenure in Congress has been marred from the outset by an election-eve assault on a news reporter and subsequent misleading statements about the incident to law enforcement officers. Such behavior – especially from an elected official – is simply not acceptable.

The majority of Montanans don’t place themselves on fringes of the political spectrum. Our lone representative to Congress should reflect that.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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