John Heenan’s campaign for Congress said Monday it has landed the support of several key strategists as it looks to emerge from a wide field of Democrats vying for the chance to challenge freshman Rep. Greg Gianforte in this year’s election.
Among the names, the campaign said it has the support of Joe Trippi, who served as a key strategist for Doug Jones and his successful campaign victory over Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election.
Trippi will serve as senior adviser and media consultant for Heenan’s campaign.
“John Heenan stands up against bullies and is focused on replacing Greg Gianforte and serving all Montanans in the House of Representatives,” said Trippi. “We all need to rally behind John Heenan and make his challenge our own. I’m proud to be on board with John Heenan and look forward to this very important fight for the people of Montana.”
Heenan, along with Grant Kier, has emerged as an early front runner in the Democratic primary. Both candidates announced early, getting a head start on three other Democrats running in the party’s primary.
Kier landed the endorsement of the nation’s largest STEM organization last month and recently announced raising $248,000 in individual contributors during the second quarter. Also, Tom Woods, a Bozeman Democrat, recently dropped from the race citing the crowded field and fundraising challenges.
Heenan said he has received contributions from more than 3,500 individual donors and built a campaign team that has worked in Montana, including Celinda Lake, one of the Democratic Party’s leading political strategists.
Lake described Heenan as a “different kind of Democrat.”
“Montana also has a strong strain of populism in its fiber, and Heenan is a true populist with the background to back it up,” said Lake. “As a consumer protection lawyer, Heenan has helped Montanans stand up against powerful banks, payday loan companies, insurance companies and wealthy corporations. As congressman, Heenan will bring that same fighting spirit to Washington, D.C.”
Eric Walters, a partner with Terris Barnes and Walters, has also joined the campaign to focus on targeted and direct communication with voters.
In a recent interview, Heenan criticized Gianforte on a number of fronts, from assaulting a Guardian reporter last year to backing efforts to dismantle the nation’s prevailing health care law. Heenan has also criticized Gianforte for supporting the recently passed tax reform bill.
Gianforte was elected to office during last year’s special election, defeating Rob Quist by 5.6 percentage points. Democrats nationwide are looking to make gains this year and believe Montana could be one of those seats.