Former Navy officer, teacher enters race to unseat GOP senator in Montana

Former Navy officer, teacher enters race to unseat GOP senator in Montana
© John Mues for Montana

Montana Democrat John Mues officially launched his Senate campaign Thursday to unseat one-term Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesConservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal 5 takeaways from combative Democratic debate MORE (R).

Mues, a fourth generation Montanan, is a former U.S. Navy officer and public school teacher and currently works as an engineer in the energy sector. He hammered Daines over his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE’s tax cuts. 

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“Senator Daines’ position and votes on American health care has not only been immoral, it’s been anti-jobs and anti-business. Reliable, affordable health care, including lowering the price of prescription drugs, in the twenty-first century, is both the right thing to do and important to job creation,” Mues said in a press release. 

“Senator Daines has bent over backwards, shamelessly, to vote for deficit and debt-exploding tax breaks for his major wealthy donors,” Mues added. “It’s important that Montanans hear the unvarnished truth about Senator Daines, from someone who is not a politician and has served his country.” 

Mues, who deployed to the Middle East on top-secret missions during the global war on terror, also touted his military experience, suggesting he would work to provide improved services to veterans.

“I am proud of my years of service to this country and our shared values, yet am deeply humbled and grateful when I think of the many Montana military heroes who have served our Country with valor, including those who have lost their lives, limbs, or peace of mind,” said Mues.

“Our elected officials must offer more than photo ops and lip service to warriors and their families. This means real investments in mental and physical care, civilian career training, organizational accountability, and innovative community outreach,” he said.

Mues is the second Democrat to challenge Daines this cycle, joining Helena, Mont., Mayor Wilmot Collins, a Liberian refugee and the first black man to win election as mayor of a city in Montana, who launched his Senate bid in May.

The Democratic establishment had hoped to woo Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockIowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC New poll finds Biden, Warren in virtual tie in Iowa MORE (D) into jumping into the race, but he instead opted to run for president. He has insisted he won’t run against Daines even if his long shot White House bid fizzles out prior to the Senate filing deadline. 

Both Mues and Collins will face a tough campaign from Daines, who ended the first quarter of the year with $2.5 million in the bank and won 58 percent of the vote in 2014. Though Montana does currently have a Democratic governor and senator, it is traditionally friendly territory for Republicans, backing Trump in 2016 by 20 points.