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ICYMI: Congressional Candidates Set for Butte, Billings Forums

Government and Politics

September 28, 2022


Congressional candidates set for Butte, Billings forums

Congressional candidates on both sides of the divide are set to take the stage in a pair of forums held by Lee Newspapers, Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio in the coming weeks.

This year's election cycle features two congressional districts for the first time in 32 years, introducing a newly shaped western district (U.S. House District 1) without an incumbent.

On Thursday, Sept. 29, Republican Ryan Zinke, Democrat Monica Tranel and Libertarian John Lamb will square off in the Montana Tech auditorium in Butte, starting at 7 p.m.

Zinke is the former U.S. Secretary of the Interior under the Trump administration and previous congressman for Montana; Tranel is a former Olympian and lawyer who worked for the Public Service Commission; Lamb is a farmer and construction worker from Norris.

The forum in Butte will be the second time the western district candidates have appeared on stage together, the first taking place in Missoula a month after the June primary election narrowed the field.

The eastern district (U.S. House District 2) challengers to the heavily favored incumbent Rep. Matt Rosendale present an interesting field, where an Independent candidate has out-fundraised a major party candidate for the first time in the digital age.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Democrat Penny Ronning, Independent Gary Buchanan and Libertarian Sam Rankin will take the stage at the Petro Theater beginning at 7 p.m. on the campus of Montana State Billings. Rosendale will not be in attendance due to a previous commitment, his campaign said.

Ronning is a former Billings City Council member and organizer against human trafficking; Buchanan is a financial advisor and longtime public servant with the state; Rankin is an attorney and real estate broker.

Reporters from Lee Newspapers and both radio networks will serve as panelists asking questions of the candidates. Attendance at each forum is encouraged and free to the public.

"Forums like these are such a crucial component to a flourishing democracy," Lee Montana Editor Jeff Welsch said. "It's vital that Montanans get a chance to see and hear these candidates side by side, not only sharing their viewpoints on the issues that matter most to voters but also having their feet held to the fire by their opponents and reporters in civil discourse."

If you have a question for a candidate, email the Montana State News Bureau at holly.michels@lee.net.

On Oct. 1, candidates in both districts will participate in a live debates moderated by MTN News. The eastern and western district debates will both begin at 6 p.m.