HELENA — A third Democrat has entered Montana’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, in a bid to unseat Republican Sen. Steve Daines: outdoor writer Jack Ballard of Red Lodge.
Ballard, 56, who grew up on a farm and ranch east of Whitehall, has never run for political office before. He launched his campaign this week, saying his rural background and ties to the hunting and conversation community make him a good candidate to take on Daines.
A successful Democratic candidate must “understand and relate to the needs of rural Montana” and capture Independents and some Republican voters, he told MTN News.
“I have a large following in the hunting/angling/wildlife conservation constituency, which represents plenty of Republicans,” he said.
Ballard joins two other untested and relatively unknown Democrats in 2020 U.S. Senate race: Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins and U.S. Navy veteran and former teacher and oil-and-gas engineer John Mues of Loma.
They’re all taking aim at Daines, a former executive for a software-development firm in Bozeman.
Daines won election to the Senate seat in 2014 and is up for re-election next year. He’s trying to become only the second Republican to win re-election to a U.S. Senate seat in Montana in the past 105 years.
Ballard has written 13 books, focusing on wildlife and hunting. He graduated from high school in Three Forks and has degrees from Montana State University-Billings, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and Yellowstone Christian College in Billings.
Ballard also taught for 12 years at MSU-Billings, at its College of Education.
Ballard said he’s running to challenge Daines because he believes the senator is not protecting public lands and supported what Ballard calls the “grossly irresponsible” Republican tax-cut bill in 2017.
The tax cut adds almost $2 trillion to the federal deficit, benefitted primarily wealthy Americans, and was not needed to help the economy, Ballard said.