John Lewis

John Lewis announces in Helena in October that he will be running for the U.S. House of Representatives as his wife Melissa and daughter Kate watch.

ELIZA WILEY/Independent Record

HELENA – John Lewis, the lone Democrat running for Montana’s open U.S. House seat, filed for office Wednesday, saying he’s working hard campaigning across the state, even though he’s unopposed so far in his party’s primary election.

Meanwhile, five Republicans, four of whom have also filed for office, are vying for their party’s nomination in June.

Lewis, 36, told reporters he hasn’t thought about whether it’s an advantage or disadvantage not to have an opponent in the primary. The filing deadline is Monday.

“We’re going to focus on getting our message out, which is working on solutions, making tough decisions, trying to create jobs and living within our means,” Lewis said. “There’ll be plenty of time to compare records and visions for the future of Montana and the differences will be big.”

Lewis, a former top aide to former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, said he has been traveling across the state and talking to people about solutions.

He said he doesn’t know if anyone else will file in the Democratic House primary.

“Like I said, we’ve just focused on what we’re doing and have got great momentum,” he said. “We’ve got some attention nationally, and it’s because we have momentum. Our message is working.”

Asked about President Barack Obama’s proposed federal budget, Lewis said he hasn’t had time to dig into the details, but had some general observations.

“It’s mixed bag,” he said. “I always think the president can do a better job focusing on rural issues, which includes Montana’s. Too often budgetary decisions are made back there that don’t take into account how it affects small communities in Montana.”

Lewis said he wants to see Congress pass a budget.

“Communities across the country, communities across the state, families, my family, we work on a budget every day,” he said. “The only place they can’t pass a budget is Congress. Let’s see it passed.”

He said there are always areas where wasteful spending can be cut.

The Democrat already is under attack with a fake website put up by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“It’s going to try to define me as something I’m not,” Lewis said. “But Montanans will see right through that. They’ll know what I stand for as we work hard to get our message out. It’s just an unfortunate example of partisan politics attacking.”

He said Montanans are sick and tired of these kinds of political attacks.

“They want elected officials to work on solutions and move this country forward,” he said.

Montana saw vast sums of outside money spent in the 2012 Senate race, he said.

“That’s just an unfortunate part of the political process now because there is too much money in politics, made worse by Citizens United and too much special interest dark money,” Lewis said.

He was referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision that prohibits the federal government from restricting independent expenditures by corporations and unions spent in political races.

Lewis said he supports a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.

Chuck Johnson is chief of the Lee Newspapers State Bureau in Helena. He can be reached by email at chuck.johnson@lee.net or by phone at (406) 447-4066 or (800) 525-4920.

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