On May 25, Montanans will go to the polls to decide who will be our next representative in the U.S. Congress. It is important to recognize that this is not an election between a Democrat and a Republican (no disrespect intended to Libertarian nominee Mark Wicks), but between a Montanan and an outsider – a wealthy businessman from New Jersey who came here looking for a way to get even wealthier.
The primary issue in this election is something that all Montanans hold dear – our public lands. Greg Gianforte is supported by extraction industries who, given the opportunity, would frack it all up in a heartbeat. Montana is not called the Treasure State because of what we have underground, but because of what we treasure in our hearts.
I first met Rob Quist in 1979 when we were both performing at a benefit. Over the years, Rob Quist has shown up to perform at more benefits than anyone I know, and many of them for people that he didn’t even know. Now, Rob is showing up again when we most need him, and this time it is Montana that will benefit.
Having known Rob for nearly four decades, I can truthfully say that he has always personified what is best about Montana. Over the past few months, Rob has been crisscrossing the state, talking to ordinary people like you and me, and, more importantly, listening to their concerns and making them his own concerns. When you watch him interact with a group of people it is obvious that he truly cares about each and every one of them.
Meanwhile, Greg Gianforte has been hob-knobbing in Washington, D.C. as if he has already bought the election. The few times he has shown up in Montana, he has been sporting a week’s growth of beard as if that makes him one of us. (He’s a billionaire, so I know he can afford a razor.) Gianforte’s idea of campaigning has been to spend millions on attack ads against Rob, which in most cases seem to be backfiring on him. In most of these ads, he criticizes Rob for his financial difficulties, which, as it turns out, stem from medical debt – something almost all Montanans (and everyone else who isn’t wealthy) can relate to. These “attack ads” only serve to show that Rob Quist is just like the rest of us.
If we truly care about the future of our state, then Greg Gianforte does not deserve a single vote. Let’s not allow the Last Best Place to become the Last Used-to-be Best Place.
We don’t need another billionaire in Congress. We need Rob Quist.
Tom Bernstein lives in Kalispell.