Mr. Greg Gianforte has won the special election for the sole Montana House seat in the U.S. Congress. His 6 percent margin over the Democratic nominee, Rob Quist, earned our congratulations and best wishes.
Our state, because of our population of 1,065,000, is limited to only one member in the House of Representatives. Consider the fact that Los Angeles alone has 18 members of the U.S. House and one begins to grasp the challenge facing Montana’s single representative. I was fortunate to serve Western Montana in the U.S. House for seven terms beginning in 1980 and become our lone congressman for two terms starting in 1992. In that rather lonely position one quickly understands the importance of the old-fashion values of rapport, friendliness, and patience. Neither a hot temper nor tendencies toward violence are considered attributes in the House. Montana has been embarrassed enough.
It is true that most who successfully campaign for political office possess a sense of pride and that is particularly evident in those who arrive in Congress not only victorious in politics but also come there having become recently wealthy from success in business. Hopefully our new congressman, who will be the wealthiest person in the House, brings to his new legislative task a natural sense of humility.
The Washington, D.C. press corps is comprised of very bright and friendly reporters brimming with talent and curiosity. Each has a deep respect for their assigned task of reporting the public’s business. This country cannot survive without the press and its well-educated cadre of individuals determined to ferret out the truth. They deserve the respect of all our citizens and that includes every elected official as well.
To my thinking, one of the most valued sentiments for a representative from here is a sense of satisfaction. Since returning home in 1997, I have earnestly hoped each of our newly elected Montana members of the House would not use the election as simply a stepping-stone to a run for the Senate. Our state needs seniority in the House.
Good luck and best wishes, Mr. Gianforte. You will need it and so will we.
Pat Williams served Montana in the U.S. House for 19 years. He lives in Missoula and teaches at the University of Montana.