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Candidate interview: Steve Daines



Thus far, two Bozeman residents have announced intentions to
run for Montana’s singular congressional seat currently held by Republican Denny
Rehberg: Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Franke Wilmar. (Rehberg will be
challenging John Tester for the 2012 senate seat.) As of the end of March 2011, only
two of the five declared candidates, Daines and Wilmar, had filed quarterly financial
statements with the Federal Election Commission. For up to
date information on candidate filings see

By Kim Ibes

Bozeman native Steve Daines is running
for the 2012 House of Representatives
seat. Daines, 48, graduated
from Montana State University with
a Bachelor of Science in chemical
engineering in 1984. After 13 years
with Proctor and Gamble and a few
more working for his father’s local
construction company, he hired on
with RightNow Technologies and
today is their vice president and
General Manager for Asia-Pacific. His
ties to Big Sky begin with his cousin,
Katherine Askevold—known in the
early 1970s as ‘Grandma Big Sky’.
Daines, a passionate skier and hunter,
notes that if elected, he might be the
first congressman in Montana who’s
climbed Granite Peak and scrambled
across the Spanish Peaks.
Why are you running for the 2012
House of Representatives seat?

Elections are about the future. My
wife Cindy and I have four children—
two in college and two in Bozeman
public schools. We are concerned
about the direction the county is
heading. Will our kids have the same
opportunities we received from our
parents and grandparents? We may
be the first generation that instead of
sacrificing for our kids, we’re sacrificing
their future with an inheritance
of debt. We need a thoughtful
conversation on how to solve these
problems leaving our American
dream intact.

What values are most important
to you?

It starts with moms, dads and families.
My great-great grandmother migrated
from Norway and as a widow
pushed forward to Conrad. She came
here for freedom, for opportunity and
the promise America offered. We cannot
be free without having individual
accountability and personal responsibility.
These are my core values
and part of the lens through which
I see issues. I grew up in Montana
from kindergarten through college,
and I hold dearly these family values
passed down through five generations
of Montanans.
What unique skills and experiences
would make you a successful
representative for Montana?

As a fifth generation Montanan, father
and husband (Cindy and I have
been married for 25 years) I come
with a grounded Montana perspective.
I’m not a career politician. I’ve
spent the last twenty-seven years
of my professional life involved
in the private sector creating jobs
and being accountable for balanced
budgets. I’ve had to do this
every day—not only talk about it.
I’m a chemical engineer, and I was
trained to think analytically about
creating solutions for problems. We
need more people with real world
experience managing payrolls and
What will be the main issues in
the upcoming election? How will
you address these issues?

Cindy and I have been driving
across Montana and what we’re
hearing first and foremost is about
the debts and deficits in Washington.
Montanans realize we have to
live within our means. I support a
balanced budget amendment. Nearly
every state has a constitutional
amendment that the state budget
must be balanced. The federal government
should have that, as well.
The second concern is jobs and the
economy. We’re seeing economic
growth in eastern Montana with
oil and gas exploration but western
counties are still experiencing
double-digit unemployment. University
students are concerned with
finding jobs. Third is about energy, the price of
gas and how that hits our pocket
books, and our dependence on foreign
sources of oil.
There are two different worldviews,
in terms of the challenges we face in
our country. Raising taxes is not the
answer. The focus should be on reducing
spending. One of the quickest
ways to stifle growth is raising taxes
on job creators. We must provide
incentives for small business owners
to take risks and create jobs. The
private sector is known for ingenuity
and effectiveness, but these are
not associated with government. I’d
like to continue to allow families
and small businesses to keep more of
their money. They’re better stewards
than the government.
There’s a saying in congress that
freshman should be seen and not
heard. If elected how would you
be heard?

It’s not just what one person does
but what one person does in working
with like-minded members of congress.
I’m not bashful. I don’t come
into this having been a wallflower
in the business world over the last
twenty-seven years.

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