HELENA – Republican Larry Williams, the author and futures trader who lost races for the U.S. Senate in 1978 and 1982, is considering moving back to Montana and running for the Senate next year.
Williams, a Montana native who now lives in the U.S. Virgin Islands, said he spent the summer in the Red Lodge area. Some old friends and former campaign workers called him to talk about running for the open Senate seat created by longtime Democratic Sen. Max Baucus’ retirement in 2014.
“There’s some interest on my part,” Williams said in a telephone interview Friday. “I talked to some people. It’s such a change in lifestyle to go from here to there. I think the general election is open to whatever Republican wins the primary.”
Williams has not been active in Montana politics here since losing the two Senate races. In 1978, Baucus, then a congressman, won his first term in the Senate against Williams. Four years later, then-U.S. Sen. John Melcher defeated him.
These days, Williams may be best known for being the father of actress Michelle Williams, who has been nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. He has four other children.
He’s written 11 books, primarily on stocks and commodities trading.
First-term U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is expected to run for the Senate, but has not yet revealed his plans.
Williams said Daines started politics as a college student working on his 1982 campaign.
“He’s a really smart guy,” Williams said of Daines. “Should he stay in Congress another term or two? That’s his call.”
Williams said among his assets is he has lived all over the world and formed many business partnerships in different countries.
“You really have to conclude you can do a better job than the other person,” Williams said. “I really need to figure can I do that.”
He intends to travel to Washington, D.C., for a couple of weeks in October and will decide later that month.
“I’m trying to get all the tumblers in place to decide to do it or not,” he said. “Steve’s not in the equation. A question is whether I’d do a better job and be a better fighter because I’ve done it. One thing I bring to the table is I’ve fought the government repeatedly, and I’ve won.”
He cited his legal battles with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and, more recently, the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS charged him with evading payment of $1.5 million in income taxes from 1990 to 2001. Williams said the Justice Department dropped all criminal charges after three days of trial, and he agreed to pay a fine for a misdemeanor.
If he runs, Williams vowed to serve only a single six-year term. That’s the same pledge that former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, 77, has made if he runs as a Democrat for the Senate.
“Six years is plenty of time to shake this place up and get things done,” Williams said.
He said there are issues that fire him up such as the possibility of going to war with Syria, which he opposes.
“I’m talking about the same things now as I was in 1982,” Williams said. “We have too much government. Government is reading our emails. We have no privacy in the world. It’s all systematic of a big brother approach. Government should be there, but it should be our little brother.”
Federal taxes remain too high, he said.
The environment is Montana’s greatest asset – one Republicans ought to jump on, Williams said. Montana needs someone who can pull environmentalists and developers together, he said.
Williams said Baucus set the bar high for the next senator with his hard work and strong constituent services.