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Second Democrat joins race for Montana’s new U.S. House seat

July 7, 2021 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Monica Tranel became the second Democrat to announce her candidacy for Montana’s second U.S. House seat, touting her rural roots, success as an Olympian and experience as a lawyer.

Tranel, who lives in Missoula, joined the race Wednesday, following Democratic state lawmaker Laurie Bishop of Livingston, who entered last week.

Two Republicans have also announced their candidacies — former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and former state lawmaker Al Olszewski.

Montana was awarded the second U.S. House seat starting in 2023 based on the state’s growing population in the recent U.S. census results. The election is scheduled for November 2022.

The district’s boundaries have not been set, but candidates do not have to live in the district they are running for.

Tranel, 55, grew up with nine siblings on a farm in eastern Montana and said she wants to be a voice for rural places and issues in Congress.

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Tranel told the Montana State News Bureau that her main focuses if elected would include defending the state’s natural resources and environment by standing up to corporate monopolies and making “sure that the wealthiest people in the world — wealthy corporations — are paying their fair share of the load.”

Tranel ran for the state Public Service Commission in 2020, winning the primary but losing the general to former Republican state Sen. Jennifer Fielder.

She competed in rowing at the Olympics in 1996 and 2000. She attended Rutgers University Law School before a legal career that included time as the Public Service Commission staff attorney and on the state’s Consumer Counsel. Tranel now runs a private law firm.

Montana has undergone a decadelong GOP surge, capped with Democrats getting routed in the November 2020 elections.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is the only remaining Democrat holding statewide office. The last Democrat elected to the House was Pat Williams in 1996. The state’s U.S. House seat is held by conservative Republican Matt Rosendale.