Curtis tries to cover ground

Walsh stand-in has just 3 months to gain recognition, support
Amanda Curtis, front left, greets the crowd gathered in Discovery Pond at an ice cream social held in her honor Friday afternoon. Curtis is the new Democratic candidate running for Montana’s open Senate seat. (Photo courtesy of Barb Cole)

 

Realizing time is of the essence, Amanda Curtis, the Montana Democratic Party’s choice to replace Senator John Walsh in November’s Senate election, is logging miles across the state to share her message with voters.

She’ll be the first to admit there isn’t a very large learning curve. With less than three months to create a platform and campaign, Curtis knows the more Montanans she can interact with, the better.

“The campaign is going great,” Curtis said. “We’ve already raised twice as much money than we thought we’d be able to by the end of the month. Folks all across the state are really excited about our campaign. We have really good turnout at our events; our volunteer sign-up sheets are being snatched faster than we can print them.”

In town Friday to attend the Eastern Montana Fair, Carter also attended a pair of meet and greets at Main Street businesses held in her honor. She used that opportunity to illustrate the difference between her and her Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Daines.

“This race is not just a conversation between Republicans and Democrats,” Curtis said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “This race is about millionaires versus the middle class. You could not find two people who are more worlds apart than Steve Daines and I. 

“This election will decide who has control over the Senate,” she said. “He’s voting to slash Pell Grants, privatize Social Security and Medicare, and I’m the opposite on all those issues. 

I’m a woman with her own student loan debt that knows what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, because that’s who my family is, where we come from.”

The 34-year-old Curtis, a Billings native and high school math teacher in Butte, is a relative newcomer to Montana politics, having served just one term in the Legislature. That said, the Montana Democratic Party said Curtis has the will and tenacity to make a difference in Washington, D.C.

“Amanda Curtis is a force to be reckoned with,” said Jim Larson, Chair of the MDP, in a press release. “In her time in the state Legislature, Curtis proved her strength as a voice for hardworking, everyday Montanans. Amanda has a proven record as a communicator and fighter. 

“As a teacher, Curtis has a unique insight into what matters most to Montana families,” he wrote. “In Washington, Curtis will work with both sides to champion the issues that matter most to Montanans...Amanda Curtis is the voice Montana needs. We are thrilled to work with her and make sure that she is Montana’s next U.S. Senator.”

Rep. Bill McChesney of Miles City had the opportunity to work closely with Curtis during the last legislative session, and was impressed with what he saw.

“She’s a real bulldog,” McChesney said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “She’ll be a force to be reckoned with. I believe her biggest challenge right now is having an absence of name recognition. 

“Although we didn’t agree on some issues, you could always count on her integrity and her veracity,” McChesney said. “She doesn’t pull punches. I was pretty tickled that Amanda got in the race. I believe that by the time the race is over, there won’t be a person in Montana who doesn’t know who she is.”

For Curtis, currently on the road to Great Falls for a series of events, the name recognition issue is quickly becoming resolved. Though she will miss not being there to welcome her students back to school, she said this campaign is equally rewarding. Asked if she feels like she was thrown into the deep end of the pool with a truncated campaign, she doesn’t hesitate to answer.

“Fortunately, I’m a d--n good swimmer,” she said, laughing.