Edmunds touts conservative record in Congress run


Having served his country in the U.S. Navy, Champ Edmunds credits his years spent as a navigator on a submarine for his interest in politics.

“I’m kind of tall for a submariner,” Edmunds said, laughing. “I did bump my head a lot, so maybe that’s why I ended up getting into politics.”

A banker and two-term member of the Montana Legislature from Missoula, Edmunds now has his sights on a larger goal: a seat in the U.S. Senate. Running for the seat recently vacated by longtime Senator Max Baucus, Edmunds will square off against Congressman Steve Daines for the Republican nomination.

“We’re at a critical time in our country, and we need solid conservative voices who are willing to make the hard choices,” Edmunds said. “I don’t think a moderate voice is going to do that. We need more leaders like [U.S. Sens.] Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. I believe I have a solid conservative voting record in the Montana Legislature, and I would take that to Washington, D.C.”

Edmunds was in Miles City Monday as part of a tour of eastern Montana, including Sidney and Culbertson. After talking with community members throughout the region, he said the three issues that come up most frequently are oil impacts, the Keystone XL pipeline project and sage grouse.

“These are all issues we need to pay attention to,” he said. “After riding around out here, and especially after going to Williston to see my son, you really see where that money is needed for oil impacts. With the Keystone pipeline, we really need to get that rolling. The issues with the sage grouse, the endangered species folks are just using that as a tool to stop eastern Montana and the Dakotas from oil and natural gas development, and that’s a big issue we need to pay close attention to. That’s the next spotted owl.”

New jobs and a balanced federal budget are also staples of Edmunds’ campaign, as he works toward helping the GOP re-establish control of the Senate.

“I believe we can fix the financial mess this country is in, and I want to be a part of the solution,” he said.

Calling his campaign a classic “David v. Goliath scenario,” Edmunds realizes he has his work cut out for him in the primary against front-runner Daines. That said, he’s encouraged by recent polls indicating he leads against all Democratic candidates, including interim Sen. John Walsh. Pointing to Daines’ moderate voting record, Edmunds calls himself the only true conservative choice in the race, using that as his reason for continuing to campaign despite outside pressure to step aside.

“The Republican Party has essentially endorsed my opponent, even though they claim not to get involved in races prior to a primary,” he said. “I think that is wrong to the core. The people of Montana should be the ones deciding who the nominee is going to be, not the party establishment.

“We only have to look as far as the Virginia governor’s race to see that they don’t want solid, conservative ‘Tea Party types’ in office.They didn’t get behind the Republican nominee in Virginia at all, he was outspent 10-1, and he still only lost the race by three points. I think if people are paying attention, people will like what I have to say.”