U.S. Congressman Steve Daines

U.S. Congressman Steve Daines talks with The Billings Gazette's editorial board Thursday.

HELENA – Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines filed Monday as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, emphasizing that he’ll be a counterweight to President Barack Obama and Democratic policies, on everything from health care to resource development.

“I think the people of Montana want to see a check and balance to this president,” he said in an interview shortly after he paid his $1,740 filing fee. “I can tell you, Montanans are not happy with this president … or Washington, D.C.”

Daines, 51, filed on his iPhone while at the office of his old employer in Bozeman, the computer software firm RightNow Technologies.

RightNow, which is now Oracle Corp., employs 550 people in Bozeman, and grew from its beginnings 20 years ago in a spare room in the home of co-founders Greg and Susan Gianforte. Daines worked as a vice president for RightNow until leaving the firm in 2012 to run for the U.S. House.

Daines said RightNow represents a success story of how a business can be established in Montana and create hundreds of good-paying jobs.

Daines is 14 months into his job as Montana’s only U.S. representative and announced last November that he’s running for the Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. John Walsh.

Daines so far is the only Republican to pay his filing fee and is a heavy favorite to win the party’s nomination and take on the winner of the Democratic primary.

Walsh is expected to file as a candidate in the next two weeks; Wilsall rancher Dirk Adams last week became the first Democrat to file as an official candidate.

Republican state Rep. Champ Edmunds of Missoula has said he’s also running for the Senate seat, but has raised only about $22,000 in campaign funds – less than 1 percent of Daines’ $2.4 million.

The Senate seat up for election this year in Montana had been held by Democrat Max Baucus, who announced last April he would not run for re-election.

Obama then nominated Baucus in December to be U.S. ambassador to China; Baucus was confirmed for the job three weeks ago.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock then appointed Walsh to be Baucus’ successor through the end of the year. Walsh, who had been lieutenant governor, already was running for Baucus’ seat.

Daines said Monday the Obama administration has meant more government intrusion into the lives of Montanans, from “Obamacare” health policy to snooping by the National Security Agency.

He also said the government is standing in the way of natural resource development of coal, oil, natural gas and timber, which can provide good-paying jobs to Montanans.

“We’re staying focused on the issues that matter most to Montanans: More jobs and less government,” he said, echoing his campaign’s theme.

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Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at mike.dennison@lee.net.

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