Credit: Photo courtesy of Mues campaign

“Most people don’t even know what positions Gov. Bullock stands for,” says John Mues, Bullock’s lone competition in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Republican Sen. Steve Daines.

Mues entered the race early in the campaign cycle, while the term-limited governor was running for president and pledging his lack of interest in the Senate seat. Bullock’s presidential campaign was fueled by his experience as a successful Democratic governor in a rural state with an established ability to work across the aisle. He ultimately withdrew from the presidential field and then reversed himself, filing to run for the Senate race on March 9 — the last possible day to enter the race.

While fellow Democratic Senate candidates including Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins and public health professional Cora Neumann quickly exited the race, offering immediate endorsements of Bullock, who quickly surged into competitiveness with Daines, Mues has remained committed to his campaign, despite his relative lack of funding and name recognition.

Mues says he’s not worried about his lack of prior political experience, saying, “I don’t place the same premium on political service. My ideal is that people circulate between the private sector, the nonprofit sector and government service.” 

Mues says he hopes to leverage his Montana roots and diverse professional background to convince voters that his vision for economic recovery can offer a strong alternative to Daines in the November general election. 

“I think we should really think out of the box, economically,” Mues tells Montana Free Press editor-in-chief John S. Adams. He says he supports a long-term and widespread waiver of expenses for households and businesses. Pressed for details, he acknowledges that the idea would require compromise to make it through Congress.

Mues also sees ample opportunity for Montana’s energy sector to be a driving force in the state’s economic recovery. A former nuclear engineer who has direct experience with fossil fuel and renewable energy systems, he says Montana has both ample space for energy storage grids and a unique opportunity to develop hydrogen power. He regards the coal-powered Colstrip plant as a potentially major player in the zero-emissions global energy market, telling Adams, “We’re probably going to need some public investment, some infrastructural investments, to make all of this happen. But we need to get going.”

“The No. 1 priority here is to beat Sen. Daines,” Mues says. “I believe that we can run a more progressive platform and actually have better results than we’ve been having as Democrats.”

Mues’ interview is featured on the latest episode of the Montana Lowdown podcast, a weekly publication of Montana Free Press.

This story was updated May 19 to clarify Mues’ support for the Colstrip power plant’s potential role in a zero-emissions energy market.

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.