Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
A veteran of the state Legislature is making a move to take a seat in the national government. Rep. Michael Lange, R-Billings, is running for the U.S. Senate in the 2008 election. “I am the No. 1 in experience because I understand the issues at the state level and, on the national level, how they affect Montana,” Lange said. Lange faces Billings engineer Kirk Bushman in the primary in June. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Max Baucus in November. Lange cited his blue-collar background as one of his strengths, saying as the son of a farmer and a Billings pipefitter he is not a fan of rich special interests or big government. “I have a tendency to keep a wary eye on both,” he said, “and I think that’s critical.” Lange made headlines at the end of the 2007 Legislature’s special session when he made a profanity-ridden tirade against Gov. Brian Schweitzer during a Republican caucus. He said that while he apologized for his language, he makes no apologies for the message. “When he threatens my people I will defend them every time,” Lange said, adding that the other members of Congress will definitely know he is in Washington if he is elected. “It’s important you have the guts and the gumption to take that fight to them,” he said. “ You can’t buy an election, you can’t pander away your integrity, and I won’t sell mine at any price.” Lange lost his position as House majority leader during his third term in the Legislature after the incident, which was televised extensively and eventually ended up shown on YouTube.com. He said one of the first steps he took when he declared his candidacy last summer shows one of his goals: to keep taxes low. Lange said he was the first candidate to declare his intent to repeal sections of the tax code taxing retirement income. Income from Social Security, 401K plans and other retirement programs should not be taxed, he said. He said he would also fight to reduce federal involvement in regulating state issues like land and water use, energy, wildlife and other issues. Federal agencies are making decisions and regulations that impact local life, Lange said. “It’s becoming a war in the West and a war on the West at times,” he said. He said one major issue is making sure Montana is treated fairly regarding water. “I’m going to defend our water rights because they are our water rights,” he said, adding that he would also fight any attempt by the government to infringe on private property rights. Another of his major campaign issues is in national trade agreements. Lange said he opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, and any trade agreement that doesn’t put American interests first. He said trade agreements with China, for example, can’t benefit the United States: China is a communist nation and there cannot be free trade with a communist nation, which subsidizes all production. “I will support no trade agreement that doesn’t put America first,” Lange said. He cited another major interest he has worked to regulate in the state: fair shipping rates by rail. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has no competition for shipping rates in most of the state, and is listed by many shippers in Montana as using unfair rates due to the lack of competition. “Burlington Northern has never been a fan of mine,” Lange said. “That’s fine, if they’re mad so what. I’m not a fan of captive shipping.” Lange and his wife, Debbie, have four children: Todd, James, Samantha and Ariel.