HELENA - Independent candidate for Montana’s eastern congressional district and Billings businessman Gary Buchanan straddled the aisle as he shared his stances on issues ranging from abortion to the economy during a debate on Oct. 1 in Great Falls.
Buchanan was joined on stage by Democratic candidate and former Billings City Councilmember Penny Ronning and Republican candidate and incumbent U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale.
Libertarian candidate Sam Rankin was not invited to participate in the debate due to not meeting MTN debate criteria.
Buchanan was given the first question of the night and asked whether his getting the endorsement of two major unions in Montana would sway him toward the Democratic Party agenda.
However, Buchanan said if elected he would maintain his independence and promised to not caucus with either of the major parties.
His greatest strength, Buchanan said, was his background in finance.
He said he supported the work of Trump-appointed Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, and now the way to curb inflation was for lawmakers to stop spending.
“Both Republicans and Democrats spend too much money,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan said he supported abortion rights, did not support Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and wanted to put more investigators and attorneys in the U.S. Department of Agriculture to oversee the problem of large companies controlling the price of grain and meat.
Buchanan criticized Rosendale during the debate on his voting record.
In response to a question about federal legalization of marijuana, which Buchanan said he supported, the independent candidate called out Rosendale’s response.
“None of us are talking about ignoring the law, Matt,” Buchanan said. “I think most of us are law-abiding citizens. We’re talking about sitting in your chair and making some progress from a lawmaking standpoint.”
In his closing remarks, Buchanan said he felt ashamed to have Rosendale as his congressman.
People are worried about the state of Democracy in the country and Montanans in particular are tired of the two-party system, Buchanan said.
“Independents are the fastest growing part of the Montana electorate,” Buchanan said. “And I’m you’re man.”
Absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election are expected to be mailed out beginning Friday.
Ronning, Rosendale, Buchanan and Rankin will be on the ballot for Montana’s 2nd Congressional District.
Learn more about the other candidates in the eastern district race