Gianforte Talks Close Ties with Trump
May 10, 2017
Greg Gianforte came to town for a campaign event at Farm Equipment Sales on Hwy. 2 in Glasgow on May 8. Gianforte is the Republican candidate to fill Montana's at-large congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seat was vacated earlier this year by Ryan Zinke, following his confirmation as Secretary of the Interior.
The aspiring congressman arrived with Senator Mike Lang and House Speaker Austin Knudsen (HD36). The latter provided a brief wrap-up of the legislative session before introducing the headliner.
Gianforte stressed his qualifications as a successful Montana-based entrepreneur and touted his close ties to the Trump administration, as well as his bonafides as a sportsman.
Asked about his stance on the American Prairie Reserve's efforts to release "free-roaming" bison in Northeast Montana, Gianforte widened the lens: "What we need is equal treatment from all parties that have grazing allotments and in particular [...] we need more local input on these land management issues."
Pressed further about attempts by the APR to receive permits for the removal of interior fencing on Bureau of Land Management allotments, a move which could dramatically affect cattle production in the region, the candidate responded, "There is some action in Washington about whether we should bring the BLM headquarters to the west, maybe even Montana. I think better decisions get made when [agencies] are closer to the people, and I would be supportive of that."
Asked about recent legislative efforts in Washington on the subject of healthcare, Gianforte expressed doubts about the current House bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, while adding qualified optimism about ongoing efforts by Senate Republicans to craft their own version of the plan. He reiterated his commitment to maintaining protections for Montanans with pre-existing conditions.
Newly-minted house rep Casey Knudsen (HD33) was also on hand to answer questions about the recent loss of Job Service Glasgow, which is set to close its doors on June 30.
Knudsen stressed his frustration at apparent backloading by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, who announced the closure at the tail end of the legislative session.
"I don't know how to stop that from happening again other than taking their [DLI] budget back to zero," said Knudsen. The Malta native wasn't on the appropriations committee responsible for overseeing cuts to Job Service, but made immediate inquiries when contacted by constituents.
Local sources indicate that Democratic congressional candidate Rob Quist is planning a May 18 trip to Glasgow, but event details could not be confirmed at press time. Election day is set for May 25.