Montana Politics Special Election

Billings Veteran Kelly McCarthy Seeks Congressional Seat

Written by Nathan Kosted

The field of Democrats running for Congress is starting to crystalize. Casey Schreiner has dropped out.

Kelly McCarthy, Amanda Curtis, John Meyer and Rob Quist are the Democratic candidates.

A good field of candidates, and we need our candidates talking to Montanans and talking about the future of our state, and talking ideas. We need a clear understanding of where these candidates stand on the issues. Policy matters.

Here is a good starter on Kelly McCarthy, a Veteran and Billings state house representative.

Kelly will be holding an event, tomorrow, Saturday at 2:30-4pm at Miller’s Crossing in Helena. It is a meet and greet for those with questions and those interested in donating can do that as well.

RSVP here:

Kelly grew up on the south side of Billings, the second born to a large Irish family. In 1985, he joined the United States Air Force seeking to use his talents to best serve his country and see the world. He was trained in Air Force Electronic Intelligence and embarked on a 23 year career with both the US Air Force and US intelligence community serving around the globe.

While serving in Australia, Kelly met Glenda, his future wife and the love of his life. Glenda is an award winning educator who pioneered programs aimed at closing achievement gaps for urban indigenous students. After returning to the United States in 2008, Glenda continued her passionate work and has become a valued asset in Montana’s Indian Education community. She’s currently finishing her doctorate at Montana State University.

Kelly earned a BS degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle while in the Air Force and later an MBA in Global Business from University of Texas at Dallas.

Upon returning to Montana, Kelly began a five year stint in Banking Operations where he served as the IT Operations Director and later Business Analyst for First Interstate Bank. In 2013 he founded The Artos Group, a consulting company that partners with local and international aid agencies, development organizations, and government entities to foster sustainable growth and prosperity at home and in developing countries worldwide.

Frustrated with the lack of gentility in political discourse when he returned home to Billings, Kelly founded the non-partisan group, Politics in the Pub. Participants spanned the political spectrum and discussed issues facing the state and nation with one simple rule – you don’t have to agree with each other, but you are required to be courteous.

Through Politics in the Pub Kelly fostered many positive relationships with leaders on both sides of the aisle. In 2011, he was approached by his friend and mentor, Robyn Driscoll about running for her termed out Montana State House seat. Following a visit to Helena, Kelly saw that his more amicable approach to political discourse would be a refreshing change in Helena, and he began his first run for the Montana House.

In 2013, Kelly was named a member of the Appropriations team that crafted the first budget ever to pass the House floor with a 100-0 vote. In 2015, he parlayed the good will that he developed with colleagues on both sides of the aisle into an 80% pass rate for sponsored legislation focusing on defending property rights, protecting consumers and fostering economic growth.

In 2017, Kelly was appointed Vice Chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. His priorities for the 2017 legislative session are creating continued opportunities to diversify Montana’s economy and create good paying jobs across the state. He is also working across the aisle to develop a comprehensive infrastructure program that will help put thousands of Montanans to work improving highway and bridge safety across the state.

In addition to his work in the Montana legislature Kelly also is a part of several boards and committees, The Montana Board of Investments, Montana Manufacturing Extension Centers, and Second Season.

About the author

Nathan Kosted


  • Kelly McCarthy is an outstanding candidate! His legislative experience, military service, and years of work within the Party are good reason for everyone to seriously consider him for the Dem nominee. He has proven he is willing to make the sacrifices and do the hard work it will take to win the Congressional seat by his years of actually making sacrifices and doing hard work for the people of Montana, never seeking fame or special recognition. Kelly is no Johnny-come-lately, I hope the folks at the Convention take a good look him.

    • Kevin, I’m not sure you realize what you’re doing. Your voice has power. Your wife is an incredible public servant. I recommend you keep your public efforts coordinated with her or your sarcastic posts and cryptic posts could come to reflect a connection with her campaign and thus you will create a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby her political career and your comments become intertwined. When your online presence suggests a broken system, you wrap her political future into that narrative. This is not the truth. Her policies are separate from your online persona. Deriding other candidates with your snark is doing absolutely no good for our political system. Show people who the better candidate is, don’t just play tough guy online.

      • Shame on you for jumping to such ugly conclusions. Neither me nor my wife PLAY politics like that, it is not who we are or what we stand for. Anyone who knows me knows I am always 100% honest and will tell you exactly what I think. I think Kelly is a great candidate, I also think Amanda is a great candidate and we should all be proud that the Democrats have such good candidates in the two of them. When two people (friends) on the same team are competing for anything I believe in building each other up, it’s how I was raised and how I treat my friends. The last thing I want to do is trick or force the delegates at the Convention to vote for my wife, I would prefer they make an informed decision and nominate the person they think is best for this particular race. To be honest if Amanda does win the nomination I will be both happy and sad. Happy she (we) get the great honor to fight for what is right and just on behalf of so many great people, and a little sad that our wonderful quiet life and all privacy will be disrupted for the next 100 days (maybe even the next two years). We are willing to personally sacrifice a lot (believe me it’s more than most realize) if Amanda is asked to serve but we will not sacrifice or change who we are. I believe Kelly feels the same.

        • I think maybe we’re fighting without cause here. I think there might have been some confusion about your post, Kevin, but I trust that it was just a genuine set of positive remarks about Kelly.

          We’re all better served if we remember who the real enemy is.

      • Nathan, I’m not sure you realize what you are doing
        sounds like petty non-intelligent malcontent aspersions
        against who you think Kevin is.

        Surely you are not trying to deceive me about what Kevin posts and does.

        I’m an old duffer saying what old duffers say. Apologize. Play fair. Know yourself. Include not exclude. Avoid cheap shots. Build trust. Practise online Journalism. Recognize there’s precious little progressive online Journalism in Montana.

        Please recognize that your carefully selected keyhole views into the New Administration have broad merit and utility.

        I for one, appreciate having three standing contributors to Intelligent Discontent.

      • I must not be enough of an insider because Kevin’s comment looked like an endorsement, not snark, to me, too. My initial reaction was that Amanda was dropping out and throwing her support behind Kelly. Let’s keep it real here, people.

        • I think you both make great points. Has Kevin endorsed Kelly? Or is Amanda dropping out? Or is it rude and sarcastic? Kevin can fill us in, but I doubt he will, so I guess we just take his completely out of place cryptic comment at face value.

          • In this situation, being fair to Kevin requires taking him seriously and at face value. I’m sure he’ll clarify his comment if he’s sticking with Amanda and wants that known publicly.

        • Thank you for clarifying, Kevin. I met Kelly the other day and he seems like a genuine and knowledgable guy. Also glad Amanda is staying in the race. I jumped to the wrong conclusion when I read your initial comment.

          • No problem at all! In fact I find it amusing and enlightening – you say something nice about someone and everyone goes bananas – political minded people are an odd twisted bunch indeed! The wife and I are Real People and are both very accessible, Mr. Kosted could have called, texted, emailed or FB messaged me before he went off the rails with his accusatory, inflammatory and gratuitous comments.
            I guess I’ll never try to be a positive cheerleader for the Progressive movement and good fellow Progressives on this blog again, so lets all be negative, jump to ugly conclusions, attack each-other and welcome Greg Gainforte as our next Congressman*. (* For the so easily confused the last run-on sentence is meant to be read as sarcasm, I am not endorsing Gianforte.)

            • Well, I appreciate your comments, Kevin. Without the tone of voice and facial expressions, it is hard, sometimes, to tell a sarcastic comment from a sincere one. I hope this whole episode is water under the bridge.

  • That was one of the strongest endorsements of Kelly McCarthy that I have seen so far.

    As I said earlier, Amanda Curtis’ greatest challenge in this upcoming Congressional race will be trying to keep a muzzle on her husband, Kevin.

    • Yeah, Trump has taught us all how so very important it is to be careful with what we say on social media! (that’s sarcasm)

      The fact is that the Trump campaign AND win has taught us all that those who learned politics from a textbook now have no idea how things work in today’s world. (not sarcasm)

      BTW: If you, or anyone, think that my comments, views and beliefs in Justice, Democracy, American Unionism, Truth, and Liberty are detrimental to a campaign that’s just fine…but know I will always exercise my Free Speech rights and I will always proudly stand behind what I say and believe. My Great (X8) Grandpa Ethan Curtis did not fight in the American Revolution so that his descendants would sit quietly with their mouths shut and not stand up and speak out for what is right (my entire family firmly believes and teaches that!). I am a direct male descendant of a Revolutionary, I have Revolutionary blood running through my veins…no one is going to “muzzle” me.

  • First, I’d like to thank Nathan for a nice well written article. A lot of people know “legislator Kelly” but have not had the opportunity to meet Mike and Terry’s kid, or Glenda’s husband, or Sinead and Casey’s old man – all roles that I’m grateful to have and appreciate the opportunity to share.

    I am also a big fan of Amanda Curtis and Kevin is a good friend. Stepping into the arena is never without risk and win or lose, nobody gets out without a few scars. Amanda has stepped up for us more than once and I admire her for her courage and sacrifice.

    I trust that Kevin’s thoughts are from the heart. There are still a lot of moving parts leading up to the convention. But those of us who are asking for the nomination are committed to support whoever gets the nod and do what we can to give our candidate the best opportunity to win.

    Not a fan of Zinke, but this nomination is a gift opportunity to get this seat back into the hands of someone who actually cares about Montana.

    • Kelly, many thanks for your timely post on two important subjects!

      Gosh, in my little world, still zero PR from Democratic Party Leaders about what could become a watershed Election. Kelly, thankyou for Posting:

      “But those of us who are asking for the nomination are committed to support whoever gets the nod and do what we can to give our candidate the best opportunity to win.”

    • Absolutely agree, Kelly. This race is the dems to lose. The best strategy though is do NOT make it complicated. Stay on message, stay on point, and a monkey could win. Need proof? Look at our current Pubbie office holders! Need I say more?

      They never stray off message. And their message is so simple a simpleton could understand. (or teabagger)

      Four things hammered repeatedly will do the trick.

      First, take back the gun argument, make it your own! This is Montana ferrchrissakes. We love guns, and we don’t want gun control! Stop letting the Pubbies whack us with our own issue! The power to define the situation is the ultimate power. YOU start defing the the situation! Don’t let the monkeys define you!

      Second. Just one word. Medicare! Medicare! MEDICARE1 No more explanation needed.

      Third. Just two words. Public lands, public lands, PUBLIC (our) lands! Although Slinky denies, they’re coming for them!

      And for the knock out and win, SOCIAL SECURITY!

      It’s not the economy stupid any longer, it’s the simplicity stupid! Best monky repellant I know of.

      This is our James Watt moment. USE it!

    • On target Kelly, I’m all for a Veteran and seasoned legislator to get the seat, that’s how Zinke used that that experience.

  • Hey Larry – you shouldn’t be talking about guns like this, or the Dems will stop inviting you to their get-togethers at the Country Club. They will think you are deplorable and un-redeemable 🙂

    • Not really true, every Dem I know is fine with guns, most in fact are avid hunters. Heck my wife has given guns away as raffle prizes for her non-profit community radio station KBMF.

      • Kevin have you been lurking around the blogs long ? POGIE is scared to death of guns and would like to see Australia-type bans and confiscation. The National Dems campaigned on it this last election cycle, and got decimated again. In the Montana legislature the only ‘No’ votes on pro-gun bills come from Dems. And when asked if a woman should be allowed to have a handgun for self defense your hero Amanda Curtis just rolled her eyes.

          • Too funny Pogie – maybe Hillary can be President of California ! The Donald won 82% of the counties in the USA, and if he would have campaigned in California he would have won 82% of the counties there too ! Live in the now !

  • I think Democrats are very lucky to have so many talented and good people who are willing to step up and serve. it’s lots of work and can require lots of sacrifice. So thank you all making the effort!

    The first question I have is who is the most electable?

    And after much thought I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way we are going to win a small turnout special election is by going big. We need lots of big ideas (as LK points out in his colloquial fashion) and we need a Credible Messenger, a political fact I’d suggest LK finds more challenging. With Big organizing, Big ideas and a Credible Messenger we can make a big ask on people to actually do the work it takes to win in a State where more people self ID as Republicans than as Dems.

    First some assumptions.
    1. The hardcore motivated Republicans who turn out in an off year special elections aren’t going to vote for a Democrat no matter who it is. These are the motivated hard core.

    2. Only by motivating all of our base including our Native American allies can we succeed. In fact we have to turn out people who often don’t turn out as fewer and fewer people remain in the active voter pool every year, and many stay home in non-presidential years. we need millennials, baby boomers, and Natives knocking doors and talking on phones.

    3 Ads don’t elect people near as well as knocking doors does! We won two statewide races in the general last year (Bullock, Sanderfur) with strong (professional) canvasses like Planned Parenthood Advocates that knocked tens of thousands of doors in Missoula and Billings and helped turn out sufficient voters to win those races. The Sanders volunteers did it all in the Primary with volunteer canvassers and phone callers and won big against Hillary thanks to person to person voter contact. In Park County (Livingston) MT they knocked every door in the phone book twice and got the biggest Bernie vote % in the state, due to saturation. More work but higher return!

    So we need to run a Big campaign with lots of big organizing of populous volunteers who can do voter to voter contact.

    Amanda can deliver that volunteer base better than other candidates because she is a credible messenger for majoritarian issues like Medicare, Public Lands, Social Security, and other New Deal Big Ideas including universal affordable heath care.

    Amanda Curtis is obviously the only candidate with the name recognition and the credibility to pull off a Big Organizing Big Campaign populous movement that can win.

    And she has the help of people from around the state and country who are very good at Big organizing and at raising very large totals from many small donations.

    I surely hope the Montana State Democratic Eboard, the County Central Committee chairs and Vice Chairs and their state Committee People unleash the potential people power just waiting to ignite with a messenger like Amanda Curtis. . We are ready to embrace big ideas and to be asked for a big buy in. Who can motivate more Montanans to be all in for that 90 to 105 days window this Spring that could change the history of Montana?

    I met Kelly last Sept in Helena and he is a very nice and sincere man who chatted with me about politics. He’s not the right person at this time for this job. i met Rob Quist in MSLA at the library and he’s not the right person for this job, even though he’s a great singer and very civilly motivated.

    Only Amanda Curtis fits the bill of Big Ideas/Big Organizing! Big Ask! Only Amanda would be a credible messenger to ignite a vortex to absorb and channel all the anti-Trump pro-change people into sustained distributed action that can win. If we don’t go big, lots of people are going home. That’s my analysis.

    • Steve, I agree with you completely. Although I didn’t mention it in my above post, everyone knows that I’m a big Amana Curtis fan. She’s got the right stuff. Plus she’s young. (and very good looking) Might as well pass the torch to a fighter. She whipped lil’ Stevey danish like a bad puppy! I listened to the debate on the radio and I theenk I even heard lil’ stevey whimper! I liked that a lot.

      But you’re right on the other folks. Nice people, but this one’s Amanda’s! ‘Bout time we had a congresswoman from America, BUTTE America!

      True story: Irish mother told her departing son, “Son, don’t stop in America. Go straight to Butte!” And that’s still good advice!

  • Kevin,
    It is you who have jumped to conclusions. I don’t want you to be silent. I want you to continue to talk, and expound and attack to your heart’s content and to rip a new one on anyone you think disagrees with you (or Amanda) or doesn’t think the right way to suit you. The more you talk and stand your ground and criticize people the happier I am.

    I admire you for calling out anyone and everyone (friend and foe) who you think insults you or Amanda by offering friendly advice. I especially like the way you attacked Mr. Kosted for going “….off the rails with his accusatory, inflammatory and gratuitous comments” when he foolishly recommended you take a more cautious tone. How dare he! I am thrilled you set him straight. If this is how you treat fellow friendly Democrats trying to help you and Amanda then I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming election should your wife be so fortunate to be nominated by her party.

    I am also happy to see one of your relatives fought in the American Revolution 240+ years ago. Congratulations. Many of my relatives fought and died serving in American militia units at the same time. Since we are bringing up family lineage to apparently prove how patriotic, tough and strong our blood lines are I should also mention I have relatives from one side of the family who’s North American roots date back about 20,000+ years.

    Good luck and keep standing up to all those Fascists. They are everywhere!

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