2020 General Election: Senate District 3

Incumbent Republican Keith Regier squares off against Democrat Guthrie Quist

By Tristan Scott
Senate District 3: Guthrie Quist (D) and Keith Regier (R)

In Senate District 3, which encompasses Kalispell and Whitefish, Guthrie Quist is running as a Democrat against incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Regier, a veteran legislator first elected to the state Senate in 2016 after serving three terms as a representative in House District 5.

Quist is the son of Rob Quist, who in 2017 unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat against Republican Greg Gianforte in the high-profile race for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The younger Quist is a native of the Flathead Valley and said he’s long held an interest in running for public office, but decided the timing was right this election cycle after receiving encouragement from his favorite teacher at Flathead High School, Sue Brown, whose husband Bob Brown was a longtime state legislator and a former Republican Secretary of State in Montana.

“Sue was one of those teachers who made a lasting impression on me, and I was so honored and humbled by her encouragement that I decided the timing was right,” Quist, who had a career as a musician before shifting his professional focus to real estate, said.

Indeed, Quist said his opponent’s stance on public funding for education was part of the impetus that drove him to run — his mom is a retired teacher, and Quist said he disagrees with measures that Regier supported in the past, including changes to guaranteed, fixed pensions for teachers.

“I believe it’s important to honor our teachers and award them for their service, but my opponent has worked to weaken teachers’ pensions,” Quist said.

Regier is a retired elementary school teacher who says he places great value on public education, but doesn’t believe that the people of Montana should shoulder the retirement burden of its teachers, which ultimately raises property taxes for homeowners and businesses.

Instead, Regier said Montana should prioritize improving the business climate in the state by creating more high-paying jobs, which will help solve critical issues like affordable housing.

“More jobs will increase a person’s ability to afford their own home,” Regier said. “State regulations that are an obstacle to businesses need to be reduced and taxes cut.”

Although Quist said he does not support a sales tax, he pointed to the city of Whitefish as an example of how the implementation of a resort tax helps offset infrastructure and utility projects by placing some of the burden on out-of-state visitors. Given Montana’s expanding tourism economy, Quist said he supports expanding the resort tax to other corners of Montana, as well as within Senate District 2.

“I am intrigued by the use of a resort tax that targets industries that receive a large influx of tourist dollars, which would enable the state to make more revenue from out-of-state visitors,” Quist said. “A lot of Montanans are pretty crunched and don’t want to see their taxes raised, but there are other ways to raise revenue, and I think out-of-state visitors should contribute.”