U.S. House race: Crowded Democratic field narrows

Race

State Rep. Tom Woods announced Tuesday that he is withdrawing from the U.S. House race.

The six-way competition to win the Democratic nomination for the 2018 U.S. House race got a little smaller on Tuesday.

Tom Woods, a state House representative from Bozeman, announced his departure from the race in a press release Tuesday morning.

“The fact is, a couple of the other candidates have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, well over 10 times of what I have been able to raise,” he said in the release. “The deeply unfortunate part about a congressional campaign is that it costs about $10,000 a month at the start of a campaign.”

If he were to continue, Woods said, he would have to go into debt, and “I can’t do that.”

In withdrawing, Woods indicated his preference for Billings lawyer John Heenan, one of the five remaining Democratic candidates.

He said Heenan “has very similar progressive issue positions to me on healthcare reform, human rights, raising the minimum wage and fighting corporate money in politics. The other candidates are decent people, too. There are no Democrats in this race that I wouldn’t want to win next November.”

In addition to Heenan, Democratic candidates are Grant Kier, of Missoula, who left his job as executive director at the Five Valleys Land Trust to run for Congress; Lynda Moss, a former state senator from Billings; Whitefish attorney Jared Pettinato; and Kathleen Williams, former state House member from Bozeman.

They are all hoping to unseat Republican U.S. House Rep. Greg Gianforte, who won the seat in a special election last year, after the former representative, Ryan Zinke, was named to head the U.S. Interior Department. Gianforte is being challenged for the Republican nomination by Drew Turiano, of East Helena, who ran in the special election last year and has unsuccessfully run for other positions.

Woods, in withdrawing for the race, said that by doing so now he will be eligible to run again for his legislative seat.

“I will probably do that despite the fact that it’s a terrible job,” he said in the press release.

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