Bozeman Democrat hopes to run against Steve Daines


BOZEMAN, Mont. - An MSU professor and State legislator says she wants the job after US Senator John Walsh dropped from the race for Montana's US Senate seat. Walsh quit the campaign after scandal broke out that he plagiarized his 2007 Army War College Master's thesis. Montana Democratic Party officials will vote on a replacement for Walsh next Saturday, but they are having a hard time finding someone who wants to. Political experts say whoever steps in has a slim chance against Republican Steve Daines. MSU professor and state legislator Franke Wilmer hit the streets Saturday, knocking on doors, talking to potential constituents.

She's already in a race to represent State Senate District 32, but explained if she had it her way, she'd be campaigning against Congressman Steve Daines to represent the whole state. "I think voters are still looking for another message and another voice," Wilmer explained. After Democratic candidate John Walsh dropped out of the US Montana Senate Race following a plagiarism scandal, the Montana Democratic Party was left scrambling, trying to find a candidate to step in. Most big-name Democrats have declined, and experts say the chances of a Democrat winning so late in the race are slim. But Wilmer thinks she is the woman for the job. "When people asked me if I would step in, I felt more like I owed it to them to give it my best shot," she said. Wilmer said she'll fight for Montanans, something she believes she'd do better than Steve Daines. "I think Steve Daines, our Congressman, has made a lot of decisions that are not in the best interest of Montanans," she said. "You can start with closing down the federal government, specifically the national parks, costing us tens of millions of dollars." She said she knows firsthand what middle class Americans need. "I worked 16 years myself in blue collar jobs before I was able to get scholarships and finish an education and Ph.D," she said. "That's the American dream. The only limit is your own willingness to work and play by the rules, and that's being undermined by people who make policies for other rich people." Wilmer said she knows she would be the underdog if Democrats choose her, but she is ready to hit the ground running. "I have to talk to Montanans," she said. "I have to put my message and candidacy in front of them to see how they react." The Montana Democratic Party must decide on a replacement by August 20. If Wilmer were selected and then elected as a Montana Senator, she'd be the first woman to hold the position.