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HELENA – The Montana AFL-CIO this week endorsed Dennis McDonald in the three-way Democratic primary for the U.S. House seat held by five-term Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg.

The 38,000-member labor federation usually stays neutral in contested primaries, but decided to endorse McDonald this year.

“Dennis is a proven believer in the significant contribution of the average worker to the vitality of our society,” said AFL-CIO executive secretary Jim McGarvey. “This endorsement is the result of a lifetime of dedication to working families. Dennis McDonald will be a leader of courage and conviction.”

Speaking to the AFL-CIO executive board Wednesday, McDonald told union leaders he was at the Smurfit-Stone Container pulp mill near Missoula on the final day of operation that left more than 400 employees without jobs.

“I could see the concern in their eyes as they left work for the last time,” McDonald said. “I have always believed that if we invest in common people, we will receive an extraordinary return.”

McDonald said that organized labor sets the standard for all workers and is a key element in rebuilding the economy.

Also seeking the Democratic House nomination are Tyler Gernant, a Missoula lawyer, and Melinda Gopher, a Missoula writer.

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