Here’s a question a few of my friends are asking me. Why would a pro-choice, liberal-leaning woman like myself, who typically votes for Democrats, be supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte?
First, a little background. I’ve had decades of experience in business and economic development. In 2000, I began running a small economic development organization in the Flathead.
I heard constantly from young people and entrepreneurs that there was no equity capital in Montana. Three things really shocked me as I dug into the data: 1. Government is our state’s largest employment sector. 2. Our state’s dependency on federal dollars is far too great. 3. The income tax structure was way out of line in terms of capital gains and income tax, in 2000, the highest in America.
Contrary to “tax cuts for the rich,” I credit a previous GOP governor’s administration for a bipartisan effort that puts Montana’s state and capital gains tax squarely in the middle. As I was working with many others on this change, I got to know a guy by the name of Greg Gianforte. He was still in the early stages of founding RightNow Technologies. Gianforte wrote thoughtful and cogent letters about doing business here, the tax structure and the crying need for private-sector, living-wage jobs.
Gianforte went on to grow RightNow, creating a lot of wealth and hundreds of high-wage jobs for his fellow Montanans along the way. I have gone on to raise two angel investor funds that have operated regionally and deployed $8 million in private capital in Montana and the region. I watched as Gianforte took a different approach. He was always willing to meet with and coach entrepreneurs; he has mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs across Montana.
Over my professional life, I have met few people with better managerial skills, time management skills or the ability to build a world-class team than Greg Gianforte. While we don’t agree on some social issues, I am persuaded that Gianforte is running for governor out of a deep sense of purpose to do better for Montana and Montanans. Gianforte knows how to create value and get results for every tax dollar! What an opportunity for Montana to have as a leader someone who isn’t looking for their next job as a career politician and understands what customer service, and serving “we the people,” really means.
Contrast that with the current governor and his “Main Street Montana” boondoggle. The current administration has taken three and a half years to come up with “studies and key industry indicators.” No plan, no budget, no accountability and no measurable outcomes. After all that?
Greg Gianforte will show up, engage, learn, set goals and work as hard as he can for the people of Montana: to create jobs, better educate our children and serve the people of Montana. Gianforte will look to the facts, not the unfounded fears that his opponent has promulgated. My sense of Montana values is tolerance, respect and appreciation for hard work and service. We have far too much political cronyism in Helena today. It’s a big state and takes a real commitment to reach out and engage.
What an opportunity we have in Montana to elect a bright, hardworking, committed leader for our state who will bring policy, not politics, to Helena.