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Jack Ballard announces run for Montana’s US House seat

August 3, 2021 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Democrat Jack Ballard announced Tuesday a run for the U.S. House, in the hopes of unseating Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale.

Ballard, 58, is a writer who resides in Red Lodge and covers hunting, fishing, wildlife and conservation.

He is the first Democrat to announce a run against Montana’s only sitting U.S. House member. Three other Democrats announced earlier this year their intention to run for Montana’s new U.S. House seat.

Montana was awarded the second House seat starting in 2023 based on the state’s growing population in the recent census results. The election is scheduled for November 2022. The districts’ boundaries have not been set, but candidates do not have to live in the district they are running to represent.

Ballard said he chose to challenge Rosendale because he anticipates his hometown of Red Lodge to be assigned to the eastern district, where Rosendale will likely be the incumbent.

“I think it’s important for representatives to live in their district,” he said. “I identify real strongly with rural communities in eastern Montana.”

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Ballard said he intends to focus on addressing climate change, supporting rural communities, and increasing wages — including through raising the federal minimum wage.

“The American dream is increasingly out of reach for many Montanans. Wages aren’t increasing much, but the costs of housing and health care are skyrocketing,” he said in a statement.

He also said there is need for a federal response to climate change to support Montana’s agriculture and outdoor recreation industries.

“The stress of drought and wildfire is crippling two of our state’s most important industries,” he said. “We desperately need innovation and investment at the federal level to reduce the devastation of an increasingly hot and dry climate.”

Ballard previously ran for U.S. Senate in an effort to unseat Republican Sen. Steve Daines in 2020, but withdrew from the race in 2019 after he was diagnosed with symptoms of a heart condition. He now says he is in good health and does not anticipate any problems that would impact his ability to campaign.

Republicans have held the state’s at-large U.S. House seat for nearly a quarter of a century, but Ballard says his experience growing up and working in eastern Montana has prepared him to court the votes of moderate Republicans and independents.

“I understand Montana. I’ve lived here my entire life. I’m a genuine outdoorsman,” he said. “I intend to focus on issues where I think there are moderate Republicans, independents who, like myself, want to move forward toward addressing some of the bigger problems that we have.”