U.S. House candidate Kathleen Williams gears up for contest with Gianforte

BOZEMAN - Kathleen Williams beat out four fellow Democrats, with 34 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary to determine who will run against Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte.

Williams has run and won campaigns in Montana before - she's served three terms in Montana's state House. This is her first statewide campaign, and if she wins in November, it will be historic. She'll be the first woman to represent Montana in the House of Representatives since Jeannette Rankin did a century ago.

"It's been a long time since Montana has elected a woman [to Congress]," Williams says. "I like to think that I'm the most qualified candidate and I just happen to also be a woman, so I think that will serve me well."

There's no rest for Williams following her primary election victory. Wednesday, Williams and her staff were working away, planning their next steps on the campaign trail.

"We're not going to change anything," she says. "Our message has been working. It's been resonating with Montanans. I think Montana's ready for better service at a federal level, and I'm ready to do that."

Williams said she's already heard from four of the other candidates she ran against in the Democratic primary as well as Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester.

It's Williams' first run for federal office, but she's ran campaigns in the past and served three terms as a Montana House representative.

"I think once of the reasons we were successful in the primary was I just got out and across Montana and talked to so many people, whether it was by phone or in person," she says. "We accepted any forum, any event. We drove to Scobey and back one time just for that event. And so we're going to keep doing that."

Williams also chatted about her career, including work with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and her passion for Montana's waterways and water rights. She even got married on the Capitol Rotunda in 2001.

Inside that building is a statue of Montana's only woman to serve in Congress, Jeannette Rankin. Williams says it's an honor to be compared to her.

"She was an amazing woman and the first female Congress [member] in history, so to be associated with someone of that stature is pretty amazing."

Williams says her legislative experience speaks for itself in attracting voters.

"It's been an honor, and I look forward to continuing that."

Both Gianforte and Williams are Bozeman residents, showing that southwestern Montana is going to be a hub of political activity. We'll be following all the action here at ABC FOX Montana.

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