HELENA - Jason Ward, road construction manager for the Crow Tribe and a farmer, has filed as a Democrat for Montana's lone seat in the U.S. House.

Ward's candidacy brings to six the number of Democrats running for the open House seat, along with one Republican. The Hardin man filed for office Friday.

A Crow tribal member, Ward, 34, is the lone American Indian candidate in the U.S. House race and said he hopes that will help his chances, but added:

"I really hope that it's my ideas that resonate with the people, rather than because I'm Native American or any of that other superficial stuff. Maybe I'm naïve, but I really hope people think the same way I do."

Ward, who hasn't sought office previously, said he stands out as the only House candidate who is not a politician.

"I think people are looking for a person that actually knows what it's like to make a living these days," Ward said. "So I thought I'll see if that's the case."

Ward said he's hasn't been involved in politics at the local level. He said he read both parties' platforms and listened to what candidates have said on television and found the Democratic Party a better fit.

"What I would like to do is stop the games," Ward said. "Things should be straightforward and honest."

The federal tax code is "so huge that there's nobody that can understand it completely," he said. "Things need to be straightforward. When it's vague and complex like that, it gives the impression that there are things that they don't want people to know."

Ward also said he opposes free trade, saying it hasn't worked for him or other people, and favors protective tariffs instead.

The Democrat said he would prefer to offer his principles for voters' consideration instead of his stands on issues.

"Whenever a piece of legislation goes across, people should think if it's going to ensure liberty for constituents instead of limiting it," Ward said.

He said he will be raising money for his race himself, but is studying "the whole great big book" of federal laws and rules to make sure he does it right.

Ward has a website under construction and is using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Born in the Crow Agency hospital, Ward said he graduated from Tongue River High School in Dayton, Wyo., and attended the South Dakota School of Mines.

Before his current job for the Crow Tribe and running a small farm, Ward said he worked for two oil and gas exploration companies. He was a driller and partner in Golden Arrow Exploration and previously worked as a driller for Ensign Exploration.

He and his wife, Ruby Yellowtail Ward, have two children, ages 7 and 3.

Ward joins a crowded Democratic primary field. Also running are: state Sen. Kim Gillan of Billings, a workforce development specialist at Montana State University-Billings; Diane Smith, a Whitefish businesswoman and author; Missoula City Council member Dave Strohmaier, a historian for a research firm; Rob Stutz, a Helena lawyer; and state Rep. Franke Wilmer of Bozeman, a political science professor at Montana State University.

The lone Republican is Steve Daines, an executive at RightNow Technologies, a high-tech company in Bozeman.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Charles S. Johnson can be reached at (406) 447-4066 or at chuck.johnson@lee.net.



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