Eastern District candidates face off in debate in Great Falls – Daily Montanan

October 2, 2022

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Independent congressional candidate Gary Buchanan told incumbent Representative Matt Rosendale that his stance on gun taxation cost him the endorsement of the Montana Sportsman Alliance.

“Even the NRA, Matt, is against you on this,” Buchanan said.

But Republican Rosendale said guns were the “only right we have that is taxed”.

Democrat Penny Ronning also fired the frontrunner, saying Rosendale supports Second Amendment rights but supports ending federal abortion care protections.

The exchange took place Saturday during the Montana Television Network debate in Great Falls. Incumbent Rosendale, former Billings Councilwoman Ronning and investment advisory firm founder Buchanan shared the stage, and congressional candidates from Montana’s Eastern District discussed a wide range of issues, including the Abortion, Student Loan Forgiveness, and Election Integrity.

Libertarian candidate Sam Rankin did not qualify for the debate.

Rosendale is the projected frontrunner in the largely conservative Second District, having swept the primaries and raised money over rivals by a mile.


Rosendale parted ways with Ronning and Buchanan on abortion, saying he was glad to see the issue returned to the states to determine in light of the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision in June.

When asked if a woman should be able to decide to risk her life for pregnancy, Rosendale said it would be something between a woman and her doctor, but said there were two lives at stake.

“And I think we have to do our best to preserve those two lives,” he said.

Rosendale also endorsed the work of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which exist in most cases to deter women to choose to have an abortion.

Ronning and Buchanan said it was an issue the government should stay away from, with Buchanan criticizing Senator Lindsay Graham’s bill which ban abortions after 15 weeks. Buchanan said he would vote to codify Roe against Wade, if elected.

Ronning said abortion is health care and men have never been legally responsible for pregnancies.

“There’s just no equality there,” she said. “It’s time we started talking about reproductive equality in a serious way, in a serious conversation.”

Election Integrity

Candidates were asked about the loss of confidence surrounding election processes, after debunked conspiracies around the 2020 election spread across the country and into Montana.

Buchanan said it was a “non-issue” and that President Joe Biden and the Montana Republicans won evenly.

“I have never seen such winners complaining about winning so much,” he said.

Rosendale said it was “extremely important” to maintain control of the election at the state level and cited recent election laws, which included an end to voter registration on Election Day, the use of college-issued voter ID cards and bans on paid ballot collectors, . that he said “ensure the integrity of the elections right here in Montana.”

On Friday, a district court judge ruled those laws unconstitutional.

Ronning said there was a need to reconsider the “fairness doctrine”, which diffusers required to feature balanced coverage of controversial topics, saying the news “has become more about punditry than delivering the news”.

“The real news is that there was no electoral fraud, that our election workers are our neighbors. These are the people we live with in our own community, and it’s time we started to trust our community again,” Ronning said.

Student loans

President Joe Biden announced that up to $20,000 in student loans, per eligible applicant, would be forgiven, in response to the rising cost of education.

Buchanan said he felt the economy was overstimulated and pointed to his tenure as chairman of the Montana banking board in the 1980s.

“We restructured the loans, we worked with the interest rates to save the banks, because that was a very serious point in our economy, and I think that’s the kind of thing you do with the loans. students,” he said. “I don’t believe a couple making $250,000 should be forgiven.”

“To save the banks? Ronning said in response to Buchanan. “What if we saved people? »

Ronning said the government should focus on enabling people to develop equity to get out of debt “because they have gone to school”.

She talked about how the tuition back home foster motherMontana State University, changed rapidly between when she went for her undergraduate degree and her graduate degree.

Rosendale said the loan forgiveness was a “slap in the face” to anyone repaying their loan.

Other issues discussed include Rosendale’s support for the Inalienable Duties Excise Tax Repeal Act, or Act of Return, which would remove the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition, but would also eliminate more than $1 billion in annual funding for conservation programs and received strong opposition from outdoor groups in the state.

The candidates discussed missing and murdered Indigenous women, where Ronning spoke about his experience co-founding the Yellowstone County Area Human Trafficking Task Force and cited online safety for children as a priority necessary.

The next debate for the Eastern District is scheduled for October 5 and Election Day is November 8.