BILLINGS - At a time when America seems more politically divided than ever, Gary Buchanan is taking aim right at the middle.
“On one weekend we had my Democratic opponent say I was a closet Republican and on the same weekend we had our current congressman say I’m a closet Democrat. My answer to that is—perfect—that’s where I want to be,” says Buchanan, the Independent candidate for Montana’s newly formed Second Congressional District that covers much of Eastern Montana.
Buchanan got some help from both sides of the political aisle Wednesday at a rally in Billings to thank volunteers who helped gather signatures to get his name on ballot. He was joined by former Montana Republican Gov. Marc Racicot and former longtime Democratic legislator Dorothy Bradley, as well as former Billings Mayor Chuck Tooley.
"We are enjoying a great deal of support from both parties. The increasing part of the Montana electorate really are independents. Nationally that is what is happening and that's what's happening here, so we are going down that eight-lane highway down the middle of Montana politics and I'm trying to get supporters from the traditional parties and a great deal of independents," said Buchanan.
Buchanan says some of the issues he would focus on would national security, access to clean water and public lands, and doing something about inflation.
“Forty-four years in business here in Billings and chairing the Montana Board of Investments and chairing the Montana Banking Board, I think I have the background to help deal with this inflation because right now that is probably the highest concern in Montana.
He also hopes to bring some civility back to Montana politics.
“Montanans get along. It’s our current set of politicians that are tearing us apart and there’s a great number of people who are concerned about excessive partisanship—the way parties and candidates treat each other. We are trying to emphasize be kind, listen, be humble and attract voters that are looking for that kind of common sense,” he says.
Buchanan knows he will have his hands full in the race against Incumbent Republican Congressman Matt Rosendale, who is seeking his second term. Former Billings City Councilwoman Penny Ronning is the Democratic candidate in the race. Sam Rankin, an attorney and real estate broker from Billings, will be on the ballot as the Libertarian.