Democratic state Rep. Tom Winter says his 2018 win in a historically conservative Montana House district resulted not from partisan appeals, but from knocking on doors, listening to constituents’ concerns, and promising to represent those concerns in the state Legislature. Winter now hopes to ride that same strategy all the way to Washington, D.C., where he wants to serve as Montana’s lone voice in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Winter recently interviewed on the Montana Lowdown podcast, where the candidate spoke with host John S. Adams about his belief that attempts to categorize Montana voters as urban or rural, liberal or conservative, serve only to benefit the powerful. Winter says his 2018 election suggests that Montana voters care more about issues than about ideology, asking Adams, “Does anyone think that the government’s doing very well right now? Do we feel that we’re in a position of strength as a state, or as Americans? Because I certainly don’t feel that way.”

Winter unseated incumbent Republican Rep. Adam Hertz by 39 votes in the 2018 race for House District 96, which covers most of the Frenchtown area west of Missoula. Winter went on to introduce a relatively large list of 23 bills during his freshman session, addressing a variety of issues including health care, minimum wage, mobile home tenancy, and marijuana legalization, among others.

He’s now set his sights on Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and he makes it clear that while he’s eager to weigh in on issues including public lands, corporate tax breaks, and the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, he sees the most pressing need for his voice in Congress in the formation of a plan to deliver health care to all Americans.

“We need to have a champion for rural and underserved communities and make sure that they are involved in the health care decisions coming up,” Winter says.

Winter also talks about his experience as an EMT, and watching his sister grapple with the health insurance system while navigating her diagnosis with a chronic medical condition.

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Winter is one of three Democrats vying for the party’s nomination. Three-term state representative and U.S. House candidate Kathleen Williams was a recent guest on the Montana Lowdown, and both candidates are competing with Simms rancher and political newcomer Matt Raines. The Republican primary includes Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, former state Republican Party chair Debra Lamm, State Auditor Matt Rosendale, rancher and Lewis and Clark County GOP Central Committee chairman Joe Dooling, and Corvallis School District Superintendent Tim Johnson. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte has opted not to stand for re-election, choosing instead to run for governor.

Alex McKenzie has worked with a diverse array of start-ups and nonprofit organizations. He is a former record producer and music journalist, has additional experience working in agriculture and food security, and previously operated his own dairy business. He lives in southwest Montana. Follow him on Twitter.