Election Guide '22
The candidates and issues on Montana's 2022 ballot
Winter, 35, is a Polson resident who has lived in Montana for roughly a decade. He served one term as a state representative for House District 96, which he won from a Republican incumbent in 2018. He left the Legislature and ran for Congress in 2020, losing in the Democratic primary to Kathleen Williams.
In the Legislature and his congressional campaigns, Winter has advocated for legalizing marijuana, increasing taxes on the wealthy and creating a universal health care system.
Winter currently works on commission with the company WorldCell, helping localities pursue federal grants to implement broadband infrastructure.
This biography was compiled using records from the Legislature and the secretary of state’s office, as well as information provided by the candidate’s campaign.
On the issues
Practice politics that ensures Montanans get what they deserve as Americans: A dignified wage, health care regardless of income, a roof over their heads, and an education for them and their families. Faith in our democracy is at an all-time low because our political system and institutions have been corrupted by the rich and the powerful. This corruption and purposeful neglect of working families is perpetrated by both parties. I will not hesitate to call it out every chance I get — on the campaign trail and in Congress. Representative democracy must start working for the people again, not just billionaires and corporations that have the money and the lobbyists to buy elections and manipulate federal policy.
Yes. I cannot believe that in my lifetime serious journalists must ask this question. But here we are. What an embarrassment for our country that other candidates use this ridiculous lie to undermine the very democracy they seek to lead. Republicans won every single statewide election in Montana in 2020 — for the first time in my lifetime — yet their party leaders think we had a fraudulent election? What a joke.
The cost of health care isn’t a problem for the rich. In the last two years our for-profit health care system collapsed, we lost over a million lives, and our frontline health workers were worked to the bone. We need — we deserve universal health care now. As a Montana lawmaker I carried legislation to protect all Montanans with pre-existing conditions, end lifetime caps, and to negotiate lower drug prices. In Congress I will fight to increase funding for our rural hospitals and expand access to affordable mental health care. But in the end we must stop protecting Big Pharma and the insurance industry that profits by rationing health care to American citizens: Wholesale corruption in DC is the only thing stopping us from catching up to the rest of the world with true universal health care for all.
In the Montana Legislature I wrote the bill to zero out all middle class homeowners’ state property taxes. This would have been paid for by a very small tax (0.25%) on all second home mansions valued over $1 million. Lobbyists in Helena killed this bill. They considered it a redistribution of wealth from rich out-of-staters to working Montanans. I also wrote legislation for greater protections for renters and mobile home tenants. But the housing issue is just as much a wage issue. Working Montanans do not have the purchasing power to compete with the rich investors trying to buy up Montana. We must raise the minimum wage to a living wage, end source of income discrimination, and expand access to capital for working families. Finally, we must use federal dollars to force cities to end discriminatory zoning laws, laws that have been manipulated by the rich to keep the poor and working class in substandard housing and away from their neighborhoods.
Climate change is an existential threat — and climate action is a dire necessity. A rapidly changing climate threatens everything we love and we will lose it all if we do nothing. I will fight for climate justice and action — like a new Civilian Climate Corps. We can put Montanans to work mitigating the effects of climate change in our communities across the state.
We must end the corruption of our political system by the fossil fuel industry. My opponent Ryan Zinke grew his wealth from $2 million to $32 million during his “public service” largely due to Big Oil and Gas. ConocoPhillips paid him $460,000 last year alone. He’s on record telling Big Oil’s CEOs that our government should work for them. I couldn’t disagree more — our government should work for the people, not multinational corporations. And the people need clean air, clean water, stable growing seasons, and a livable planet. Without climate action there will be no Montana as we know it.
The federal government has a spending problem — as in they spend all of our money on tax cuts and subsidies for billionaires and multinational corporations instead of on us. We have an unfair tax code that privileges the rich and powerful over working families. They need to start paying their fair share so that we can finally get our working and middle class tax cuts and investments in our communities.
Montana’s public lands are our wealth. We cannot allow the federal government to continue to lease federal lands to the oil and gas industry. And we cannot allow wealthy developers to impede the public’s access to our publicly held lands. I will support all efforts to gain access to parcels locked on all sides by private land. In Congress I will take up the issue of corner crossing access to allow the public’s access to our lands.
Federal transfer of lands to the states is a stalking horse for the extractive industry to privatize and further harm our public lands for profit. I unequivocally oppose this land grab.
However, I do believe our government has a moral obligation to consult with the eight sovereign nations of Montana on eventual tribal management and/or transfer of many of the lands stolen from them. This is a quickly evolving issue, and my congressional office would work in support of and partnership with tribal nations should they wish to do so. It is only right.
Montana’s teachers are grossly underpaid. As public servants themselves — as pillars of our communities — their wages must be increased to account not only for the surging cost of living in our cities and towns, but to make up for 40 years of middle-class wage stagnation. Their jobs are even harder now. We ask more and more from teachers — it’s time their wages and benefits reflected their value to our communities and society.
Furthermore, bad actors within our education system and government wish to privatize our public schools. I oppose all efforts to do so. Public education must remain public.
Like the vast majority of Montanans, I know the government has no right to tell any American what to do with their bodies. Our state is known for relatively good abortion access. But even then, the Chippewa Cree, the Nakona and Nakoda, the ranchers of the Hi-Line: They have been effectively denied abortion services. It is not fair or right or moral to force someone to drive six hours through a snowstorm to get an abortion, just as it is immoral to force someone to travel that far to set a broken bone.
The fight for reproductive justice is the fight for justice, period. That is why I will do everything in my power in Congress to help pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify the right to an abortion in our laws.
When Roe v. Wade is struck down our campaign pledges to assist any and all Montanans that seek reproductive health care. We call on all Montanans of conscience to do the same. Montanans are well known for helping our neighbors, and a Supreme Court ruling will not stop that.
Here in Montana, too many of us have lost fathers, siblings, and friends to suicide by gun. And too many domestic partners have been the victims of firearm violence from their partners to simply do nothing.
We are not coming for your guns. We are coming for the people that use them to hurt others and to save people from hurting themselves. We will work to disarm abusers through closing the boyfriend loophole, update background checks so that guns do not fall into the wrong hands, and support safe storage and mental health investments in our communities.
As a Montana lawmaker I wrote legislation to legalize weed. Then Montana voters, in their wisdom, legalized it themselves. Now we must end federal prohibition. Not just because the government has no business in our personal lives. Not just because it is broadly popular. But to end the immorality of this racist holdover from another era. Black Montanans are 10 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white Montanans, Native Montanans two times more. From the beginning, federal and state prohibition was a pretext to criminalize and suppress communities of color. It still is.
Our burgeoning cannabis market and Montana dispensary small business owners desperately need a federal representative that will help unlock the economic potential of this crop. That starts with decriminalization, banking reform, and criminal justice reform. The people are already there — the government just needs to catch up.