First elected as Montana’s first openly gay male legislator in 2010, Bryce Bennett is now running to be Montana’s next secretary of state. We sat down with Bryce to ask him three questions about his race.
Victory Fund: In what way do you think an LGBTQ person can uniquely effect change in a secretary of state position?
Bryce Bennett: One of the big reasons why I’m running for this office is because it oversees our elections. In Montana, like many other states across the nation, there are many people that are disenfranchised by the process, people in rural parts of Montana, people on Native American reservations, and I think that folks that have experienced discrimination like the LGBTQ community understand what it’s like to be left out in a way that a lot of other folks don’t. That is a perspective I can bring to this race. I will work tirelessly to make sure no one is left out of our process and that everyone has an equal shot at our democracy.
VF: There’s so much news around the impeachment right now. How are you breaking through that and the presidential news cycle?
BB: A lot of it is talking with folks face-to-face. It’s very easy for folks to try and lump me in with the national headlines if they haven’t had a chance to meet me. I’m trying to combat that by traveling to every corner of our state, from the rural areas to the urban areas, and talk with people about the issues that matter to them. It’s an opportunity for me to let folks know that I’m an everyday Montanan just like them, I share a lot of their values, and I’ll look out for them in the secretary of state’s office. Just last weekend I did a big tour of the eastern part of our state. There’s not a whole lot of people there, and folks have told me that’s not the right place to be, but I think that by going into some of these Republican areas and showing up for the people, we’ll make it so people can’t lump you into a category of what they see on the national level.
VF: How do you talk to voters about the secretary of state position?
BB: A lot of the work that I’ve done outside of the effort to push equality in Montana has been focused around trying to make sure no one’s left out on Election Day. I’ve been able to pass important bills to fix our broken vote-by-mail system, to ensure that rural voters don’t have to drive hundreds of miles just to cast a ballot. That record is something I’m proud to share with people in every part of Montana. I’m talking with folks about the fact that we need to push back on dark money in our elections. Because of our mining industry, there’s a tremendous amount of corruption. Montanans are especially keen to look at the issue of dark money in our elections. A lot of folks are asking me about the hacking that we’ve seen at the federal level and in state elections, people want to know that their secretary of state will push back and make sure our democracy is secure.