On Nov. 7, 1916, running on the Progressive Republican party ticket (also known as the “Bull Moose” party founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912) Jeannette Rankin, a University of Montana graduate and major figure in the Montana suffrage movement, became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Montana or any other state.
Her first vote in office was to join 50 other representatives in opposing the United States’ entry into World War I. She was not re-elected to the House.
Over the next 20 years Rankin often traveled to India studying pacifism. Elected in 1940 to the U.S. Senate, Sen. Rankin held true to her pacifist doctrine. This time she was the only member to vote against the United States’ entry into World War II. No Montana woman has been elected to Congress since.
Before a packed crowd in the Burlington School library, state Sen. Elsie Arntzen recently announced she had joined the pack of candidates seeking the U.S. House seat vacated by Congressman Steve Daines as he runs for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Sen. Max Baucus, who was slated to return to Montana before he was slated to be the U.S. ambassador to China, clearing the way for then Lt. Gov. John Walsh to get a leg up in the coming elections to determine control of the U.S. Senate and the fate of Sen. Harry Reid’s role in Senate leadership.
Arntzen has put together a competent team led by Karli Hill as campaign manager. Ms. Hill worked for the Republican Central Committee and on multiple campaigns including Conrad Burns’ senatorial and Rick Hill’s gubernatorial campaign.
Ms. Hill put together the most impressive announcement event of the season. Ms. Arntzen was introduced by Rocky Erickson of the Northern Broadcasting Corp., the colors were presented by the Boy Scouts, and a testimonial was given by a former struggling student who returned years later to thank Ms. Arntzen while wearing the uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps. He is now a math teacher.
When it comes to framing issues, Ms. Arntzen is a heavy hitter, tagging all the conservative hot buttons. With two decades as a public school teacher, Arntzen recounted her legislative support for public, private, charter and home schooling. Arntzen attacks what she claims is the current congressional leadership’s legacy of gridlock, disregard for the Constitution, and the weakening of personal freedoms.
Like all Republican candidates Arntzen promises to repeal Obamacare and stem the spilling of red ink. “Want to know how to reduce the deficit? Repeal Obamacare and you save $1.7 trillion immediately,” she said. With rolling eyes she relates how a part time waitress had to quit and get a full time job to be able to afford the Affordable Healthcare Act.
Arntzen states that her most recent grandchild was born $54,000 in debt due to her share of the $17 trillion national debt and says the biggest reason she is running is so her four grand children can have a better America and a better future. To that end she promised to introduce a Balanced Budget Amendment.
With three of the other four Republicans currently in the race also being Montana senators, Arntzen said, “I have legislated and governed longer and know more issues and solutions. My life’s experience as a 21-year classroom teacher pushing for success when there are challenges, my positive outlook, and positive record of finding solutions, is larger than the other candidates. I have been teaching 10-year-olds for two decades. Teaching congressmen won’t be all that much more difficult.”
Arntzen has won the endorsement of former Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill.
For a finale at her announcement Elsie Arntzen played a recording of Katie Perry’s “Hear Me Roar.”