Candidates Talk Ag During Primary Congressional Debates

Candidates Talk Ag During Primary Congressional Debates

Democratic candidates in the primary race for Montana's Eastern District 2 Congressional race pose with MFU President Walter Schweitzer and moderator Mike Dennison after a debate sponsored by MFU May 3 in Great Falls.
MFU President Walter Schweitzer poses with Republican candidates for Montana's Eastern District 2 Congressional seat and moderator Mike Dennison following a debate sponsored by MFU held April 30 in Havre.

Montanans heard directly from candidates in the primary race for the state’s District 2 Congressional seat, thanks to debates sponsored by Montana Farmers Union.

“Montanans can make an educated decision about who they vote for in June’s primary because of these debates,” MFU President Walter Schweitzer said.

Republican candidates Kyle Austin, Ken Bogner, Ric Holden, and Joel Krautter attended and thanked MFU for sponsoring the debate in Havre and offering an opportunity to share their stances with Montanans.

Dennis Rehberg was also invited but declined to participate. Troy Downing, Elsie Arntzen, and Stacy Zinn initially confirmed but withdrew within 24 hours of the debate.

All democratic candidates attended their debate in Great Falls, including Ming Cabrera, John Driscoll, Kevin Hamm, and Steve Held, and said they valued the opportunity to speak directly to voters.

Each candidate brought their own approach and experiences to the issues, but all said issues impacting rural Montana like inflation, corporate consolidation, immigration, and access to health care must be addressed.

The candidates would take a different approach to tackling issues, with Austin looking to provide a louder lifelong Montana voice to Congress, Bogner focused on immigration and border security, Holden focused on developing coal, oil, and natural gas, and Krautter looking to bring a new brand of leadership to Congress to put in work for progress instead of focusing on fanfare.

On the Democratic side, when asked what makes them a formidable opponent to the Republican primary winner, Cabrera said he would bring passion and conviction to the seat, while John Driscoll said he brings knowledge and a willingness to discuss topics. Hamm said he would be committed to showing up and consistently working in Congress, while Held said that as a fourth-generation rancher, he understands that Ag has no party.

The debate participants also agreed a strong Farm Bill that protects programs beneficial to producers is needed, with Austin calling the bill the “backbone” of Montana and several candidates advocating for a Competition Title.

“It was good to hear from all candidates, both political parties, all supporting country of origin labeling,” Schweitzer said, adding all participants demonstrated a knowledge of agriculture and rural Montana with their answers to debate questions.

Watch the debates at

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