Voters decry divisiveness in midterm political battles

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Flathead County voters preparing for Tuesday’s crucial midterm election still seem to be motivated by the same things they were two years ago leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

In recent interviews with Republican and Democratic voters at separate events in the Flathead Valley, voters had recurring themes about key issues and concerns about the divisiveness that has plagued political races this year.

Phil and Judy Ford, of Bigfork, are registered Democrats who are concerned about the environment.

“We have 13 grandkids and what’s going to be left for them?” Phil asked.

They agreed they’d like to see Democrats and Republicans work together more.

“The deep, deep division is unfortunate,” Judy said. “It’d sure be nice to work together more.”

The Fords also aren’t fans of President Donald Trump’s tax plan.

“All you hear is about the tax cuts, but that’s just for the top 1 percent and what do we have to give up to get that?” Phil wondered.

The big races in Montana revolve around the battle for the state’s representative in Congress, where incumbent Republican Greg Gianforte faces Democratic hopeful Kathleen Williams; and the Sentate race between incumbent Democrat Jon Tester and challenger Matt Rosendale, a Republican and current Montana State Auditor.

The Fords said they support Tester and Williams.

“He has done a helluva job for Montana,” they agreed. “He’s a decent man and he stands up for our public lands, which is very important to us. We haven’t seen that from the Republican candidates.

“We’ve seen Williams speak and she seems to be for the middle class.”

Kalispell resident Glenn Young has been a substitute teacher for 20 years at Kalispell Middle School, Flathead and Glacier high schools. His support of Republican candidates stems mainly from his faith. He believes their standards are better for the country.

“I’m a Christian and Democrats are opposed to my basic beliefs,” Young said. “Rejecting God is a dangerous thing. The Democrats are lying and they are using tactics to oppose Trump at every turn.”

For Kalispell resident Donna Parker, she said Republican candidates reflect her Christian values.

“I like Gianforte, (Derek) Skees, and (Frank) Garner. They reflect my core values of family and gun rights,” Parker said.

Coram resident Ronald Johnson said he was upset with Tester because of what occurred when Trump nominated Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor for Trump and Barack Obama, to lead the Department of Veteran Affairs.

“I felt Tester was being used by the Democratic Party in those attacks. It was a shame that he fell for that,” Johnson said.

Robert Betts, originally from Great Falls and now a Whitefish resident, said politicians should lead by example.

“The hyper partisanship needs to end,” Betts said. “We’re not safe going to our churches and synagogues, how can he (Trump) immune from what’s happened? And we need better access to health care. The plans that are out there are junk and for low-wage earners. It’s not good if they can’t pay because the rest of us end up paying anyway.”

Christine Hinterman has lived in Whitefish for eight years and she is a mother of two little girls.

“I want to see a better future for them,” she said. “I think we need better access to health care and I also care about public lands and environmental issues that will affect our future generations,” Hinterman said. “We also need to be more aware of environmental regulations and addressing climate change.”

Michal Schneider is a Native American who lives in the Many Lakes area. She said “Matt (Rosendale) and Greg (Gianforte) reinforce what I believe.”

Schneider said the economy and health care are important to her. She also doesn’t care for partisanship that has increasingly characterized politics.

“It’s bad how the Democrats behave just because they don’t like our president,” Schneider said. “I just wish they’d get away from it. I don’t know how they can reign in the craziness, but the lack of civility isn’t good.

“We just need to find common ground to benefit both sides,” she added

She said she wants see more balance in terms of the environment and the tons of regulations that exist. She’s not a big Donald Trump fan, but she wants to see people give him a chance.

“I don’t like a lot of the stuff he says, but I respect him because he’s fulfilling promises he made.”

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.

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