(Daily Inter Lake, The (Kalispell, MT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 15--While newly appointed Montana Sen. John Walsh does not have ties to the Affordable Care Act that other Democratic candidates do, the law will still be "very relevant" in this year's Senate race, Walsh's likely opponent said Friday.
The law will not be repealed if Democrats remain in control of the Senate, Rep. Steve Daines, the Republican front-runner in the Senate race, said during an interview in Kalispell.
"I think it will be relevant because it's something that Montanans will be talking about," Daines said. "I think we need a new leadership in the Senate, and a leadership that will be a check and balance on President Obama."
Daines said he supports a complete repeal of the law, which he considers profoundly flawed and beyond repair with small measures.
He likened it to a badly tangled fishing line that a sensible angler would not waste time untangling.
"We need to cut the line and tie on a new fly," he said.
Daines asserted that the president's actions are evidence of its flaws. Obama has granted waivers, made exceptions and delayed implementation of certain firmly outlined provisions in the law, most recently delaying a requirement for small businesses to provide insurance to their employees.
"The president is unilaterally making things up as they go along," Daines said. "It's very, very concerning. And he knows he's got a serious problem on his hands."
The Affordable Care Act and a variety of other federal endeavors, such as National Security Agency surveillance, are no longer "theoretical concepts" for the American people, Daines said, adding that his office regularly hears stories from constituents who have been negatively impacted by the health-care law.
"Big government has been displayed in living color," he said, predicting there will be a continuing cascade of stories as more people are affected.
While Northwest Montana continues to struggle, Daines expressed optimism about Montana's economic potential. Daines was one of the original leaders at RightNow Technologies in Bozeman, a company that was bought by software giant Oracle nearly two years ago.
RightNow spawned a burst of economic growth that continues with former employees pursuing innovative start-up companies. He cited the emergence of firearms technology leaders such as PROOF Research as harbingers of economic development.
Montana's natural amenities and quality work force are connected and will fuel that development, he said.
"If PROOF was located in Texas, I don't think they would have the same quality of folks," he said, alluding to how the quality of life in Montana can be an economic driver.
But Daines said restraints on natural resource development, particularly in the timber industry, continue to hold back the state. He was scheduled to visit community leaders in Eureka and Libby today on that topic.
Daines said one of the simplest themes of his campaign will be, "We need more jobs, we need less government," and he predicts clear differences between himself and Walsh will become apparent.
For example, Daines said he voted against the recent increase in the nation's debt ceiling because it lacked any spending reforms, while Walsh voted in support of it.
That's one more reason why he wants to see Republicans claim a majority in the Senate. Daines winning Montana's Senate race is expected to be crucial for that to happen.
"There's too much at stake right now in the country," Daines said. "This is going to be a very important election."
In another development in the Montana Senate race, David Leaser of Kalispell announced on Friday he is suspending his campaign for the Republican Senate nomination.
"The Republican National Committee, the Tea Party patriots and the Montana GOP have already voiced their support for Congressman Steve Daines and I do not wish to contribute to a rift in the party," Leaser said in explaining his decision to withdraw.
"I believe the Republican Party and Tea Party conservatives need to come together and make a concerted effort to take back the seat from the Democrats," Leaser said.
Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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