U.S. House nominee Quist rallies in Billings, rebuffs criticism - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

U.S. House nominee Quist rallies in Billings, rebuffs criticism on guns and sanctuary cities

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(MTN News Photo) (MTN News Photo)
(MTN News Photo) (MTN News Photo)

Democratic supporters packed into the 2905 in downtown Billings on Tuesday to rally for Rob Quist of Cut Bank, musician-turned-candidate for Montana's special U.S. House election.

Earlier in the day, Quist sat down with Q2 News to speak further about his vision if he were to win on May 25.

Quist, who already has campaigned through 40 counties across the state for the primaries, said one of the biggest issues he hears from voters is the preservation of public lands.

In January, more than a thousand people rallied at the state Capitol to douse any transfer or selling of public lands.

"I've never seen a bill disappear from Congress so fast, that became a hot potato," Quist said. "To me, that really shows what happens when people will bond together and rally and standup for our rights. So this is very important for me because I've been speaking about protecting our wildlands through my music and my poetry all my life."

Quist said he's "running to represent the entire state of Montana" and is will to work with both sides of the aisle on issues that benefit Montanans.

Following Quist's nomination on Sunday, Republicans targeted his comments made regarding sanctuary cities and guns, calling him too liberal for Montana.

On Feb. 23, Quist appeared on Voices on Montana radio show. During a call in portion of the show, Quist was asked his stance on sanctuary cities.

"We have to realize you can't demonize an entire ethnic group, just because the extreme actions of another ... We learned we have a strength in our diversity (in Montana)," Quist responded. "I feel like it's got to work for everybody or it doesn't work for anybody. We can never be free until we lift all of humanity."

Quist says Republicans are twisting words as he never explicitly responded in favor of sanctuary cities.

"We have great immigration officials and we need to let them do their jobs. They're highly trained and specialized so I think trying to blow up this whole thing... we should be focusing on things that are important to the state of Montana.

In response his views on guns rights, Quist said the laws in place are adequate.

"I support the Second Amendment and so I think the laws we have in place are just fine," he said.

Quist and his Republican opponent Greg Gianforte are both without a history of political experience. Quist was a three-year representative for the Montana Department of Commerce for Kumamoto, Japan - a sister city of Billings.

"People call me just a guitar player, there is so much more that goes into it than that," Quist said. "I'm a small business owner. I'm also a booking agent, I book all the bands I'm in and it takes promotion, the ability to speak in public, so I really feel I've been training for this job my whole life."

When it comes to the discussion of energy, Quist said he would like to see Montana ease into renewable energy sources and become a leader in that field without hurting communities that rely on coal.

"We can't pull the rug out from this industry," Quist said. "I think we do have the opportunity to get out ahead of this and have green technologies and be a leader in this. It would be a great thing to get in front of and have a slow transition from our coal-based and fossil fuel-based economies and gradually transition. It's something we need to subsidize."

"And I think what better place to have a wind generator or farm and a solar farm than in Colstrip. We already have the infrastructure built in with the power lines and so I think that would be a really important thing to look at plus it would really pump a lot of needed vitality into areas like Colstrip as well."

Quist continues on his tour through the state this week. He said he would also welcome a debate with Gianforte before the May 25 election.

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