Replacing Rosendale


Ric Holden, Republican candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat

Replacing Rosendale
Posted at 9:00 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 23:00:07-04

EAST HELENA — Republican Ric Holden says his campaign for Montana’s eastern district U.S. House seat has been focused on getting his message out to voters face to face.

“We're such a rural state that we live out scattered out across the prairies, from the continental divide all the way to North Dakota,” he said. “And so you have to be willing to travel out into those communities to really figure out what makes those people tick, what's on their mind and what do they need help with.”

Holden says he’s been on the road consistently five days a week, meeting with groups of voters and doing interviews with local newspapers in towns across the district. MTN caught up with him at the Tri-County Republican Candidate Roundup at the Kleffner, near East Helena.

(Watch: MTN's profile on Ric Holden)

Ric Holden, Republican candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat

Holden, 62, is a native of Montana, graduating high school in Absarokee. He says he and his wife have been ranching and farming in Dawson County, about 20 miles from Glendive, for 33 years. He’s also done insurance work over the years.

Holden has made his agricultural background central to his campaign message.

“If you're going to represent eastern Montana, you better know what the right end of the cow is from the wrong end when it comes to getting kicked,” he said. “That's who I am. I'm out in the country every day working the land, farming or ranching.”

He says he wants to make sure Montana has a representative on the House Agriculture Committee, to give farmers and ranchers a voice.

“What the people in agriculture need from the federal government mostly is just to keep out of our way, stop pushing us around,” he said. “Every month, it seems like we have another rule or regulation coming down or being proposed from the Department of Agriculture, from the EPA, from you name it. It just never stops for us.”

Holden served two terms in the Montana Senate from 1995 to 2002, before stepping away from politics to spend more time with his family. He says he got back into the political arena because he’s concerned about border security.

“I'm watching that TV every morning during breakfast, and I'm seeing all these people streaming across the southern border unchecked, and it just started to drive a nerve in me like everybody else, that that has got to stop,” he said. “So I told my wife, ‘I've been out of this for quite a while, I think it's time to get out of the house and run for public office again.’ And I want to get that border closed just as fast as we can.”

Ric Holden
Ric Holden, Republican candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat, at the Tri-County Republican Candidate Roundup at the Kleffner, near East Helena.

Holden says his main message for voters concerned about the economy is to strengthen the state’s coal, oil and natural gas industries.

“Montana has natural resources that can be developed,” he said. “If we can just get the Biden administration out of the way and get some elected officials back in Washington, D.C., that realize that, we can turn this economy around – it can be done. We just need to have the right people in Washington that recognize this.”

On the subject of abortion, Holden says he’s proud of his pro-life record while in the Montana Legislature. For now, he said it’s an issue that should be discussed at the state level.

“The Supreme Court has already said that the states deserve an opportunity to take a look at this, and that's where I think it should lie right now, is with the state of Montana,” he said. “Let's let the Legislature and the people closest to the Legislature decide what should be done with the abortion issue.”

The current holder of the eastern district seat, Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale, has become known in Congress for raising alarms about federal spending and pushing for changes to the budgeting process. Holden says he agrees the country can’t continue its current levels of spending.

“Sometimes, yes, there has to be push back against the leadership,” he said. “I was in the state Senate for eight years and at times I had to go into the offices of leadership and tell them just exactly what I thought about a spending bill. So I'm not afraid to do that, and I think any independent Montanan out here in eastern Montana is going to be willing to do that – because it's not only healthy for Montana, it's healthy for the country to get a control on spending that we cannot afford.”

Holden says he wants to represent Montanans who feel inflation and interest rates are too high and who are unhappy with social policies that he calls a “woke agenda.”

“Montanans just want to be reasonable, and they want to be able to live their lives without having a whole bunch of government step in and push them around,” he said. “That's who we are as a people, and that's who I am.”

Holden is just one of 12 candidates, including eight Republicans, running for the eastern district House seat. You can find interviews with all of them here.