Lindeen Looks To Challenge Rehberg
By JOHN HALBERT, Miles City Star
Although Monica Lindeen has risen to become a leader among Democrats in the Montana Legislature, she hits her term limit at the end of 2006.
Rather than seek a seat in the Montana Senate, Lindeen has set her sights higher - the United States House of Representatives. She has challenged Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg for Montana's single seat in that body.
As yet, she faces no significant opposition among Democrats and anticipates winning the primary election.
Lindeen, 43, grew up in Shepherd, and graduated from that high school, although she also lived a year in Billings in her youth. She is a third-generation Montanan.
"I definitely see myself as a typical Montanan," Lindeen said, figuring that may help in the race against Rehberg. His last challenger was Tracy Velazquez of Bozeman, who had come to the state about a decade ago.
Asked if a female candidacy plays a role in either race, Lindeen replied, "I've never approached anything in life based on my gender."
"I accept challenges. I've always tried to do the right thing. I grew up in a family without a lot of money, and I found a way to go to college.
"When I started my Internet business, everybody thought I was crazy. It was just a fad, like CB radio." Lindeen has since sold the Billings-based Internet business she and her brother started.
"When I took on Don Holland, a well-liked Republican rancher (a legislator from the Hathaway area), nobody thought I could do it."
Lindeen said she attributes her successes to "a willingness to work hard and do what is right. My father always said if you want something done right, you have to work hard and do it yourself.
You don't just sit back and complain and hope someone else will do it for you."
She also said some of her success stems from an ability to work with people.
"In '94, when I won my legislative seat, my grandfather said it's OK to debate the issues, but then you have to put the politics aside and work with other people for the benefit of the people who elected you," she said.
"I've been able to work with both parties very well to get bills passed. I got bills passed under Republican governors with Republican majorities.
"The number-one major issue (in her congressional campaign) is the willingness for both parties to quit playing politics and start working for the people who elected them," Lindeen said.
Her second issue is energy.
"This country really needs to get serious about an energy policy that decreases our dependence on oil. We need to get serious about looking to alternative fuels like fuel cells, ethanol, biofuels synfuels and others," she said.
Education is a priority that carries over from her legislative work. She said she is concerned about the No Child Left Behind legislation.
"It's fine to say to schools, 'Do a good job.' But when you put mandates on state and local schools, you should send money along with them," Lindeen said. "In Montana, a lot of that burden has been shifted to the local property tax payers."
She added that various social programs are also of great importance.
"Obviously, security nets are important - Social Security, pensions, veterans health programs are all very important issues to families. Health care. Oh my God, it's a big banana," she said.
As for national security, Lindeen said, "After watching what happened in the Gulf, the Homeland Security Department is a hopeless bureaucratic failure of red tape."
"I'm wondering what we've gotten for the millions and billions of dollars that we've spent, because it appears to me we're even less prepared than we were before 9/11. It does appear that the solution is not the bureaucratic Homeland Security Department."
Asked if that department should be split back into its component parts, Lindeen replied, "At this point, without more information, I would have to say yes." She added that more effort needs to be put toward preparing first responders and improving border security.
"I'd have to say put the resources where they'll do the most good, instead of creating a bureaucratic monster," she said.
Lindeen added that her first full quarter of fundraising has just been completed and the report is now being written.
"We met our goals, and exceeded them, actually," she said.