Replacing Rosendale


Kevin Hamm, Democratic candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat

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Posted at 9:00 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 23:28:22-04

HELENA — Democrat Kevin Hamm says he knows he has a different style than many of the other candidates running for Montana's eastern district U.S. House seat, but he believes that authenticity will be an advantage with voters.

“I think they're looking for something different,” he said. “As Democrats, we put up the same sort of candidates a lot in the last decade or so – and this isn't a knock on any of them, they're great people, I admire and respect all of them – but I am decidedly more queer than them, decidedly more out, decidedly more loud about the protections that I think need to be in place.”

(Watch: MTN's profile on Kevin Hamm)

Kevin Hamm, Democratic candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat

MTN spoke to Hamm at Mt. Ascension Brewery in Helena.

“Helena itself, the city, is just astounding, and it does such a great job of putting its hooks into amazing people and getting them to come into town and be here, to expand,” he said.

Hamm, 50, was born in Denver but grew up in Helena. After leaving Montana for work, he returned in 2008. He’s since owned several small businesses, including in the information technology and video production fields. Since 2014, he has also been a lead organizer of Montana Pride celebrations – initially a statewide LGBTQ+ Pride event that moved around the state, and then an annual celebration in Helena after other cities started their own events.

Over that time, Hamm has also been active in pushing back against what he sees as a pattern of attacks on the LGBTQ+ community at the Montana Legislature.

“I don't want to be combative with people, but I'm always going to stand up for my community,” he said. “I'm always going to stand up for the things that I know are right, and I am one of those people who will choose a hill that I own if I know it's the right thing to do and it doesn't matter if anybody is with me, and I think that's a really important thing to have in politics.”

He says he doesn’t believe that activism will hurt his chances in this district.

“As I've been out on the road, as I've been meeting people, the Democrats are a little bit concerned that they don't know if a queer person can win the race – whereas the Republicans don't care that I'm queer, they just want to know I'm going to fix taxes,” he said.

Hamm spent six years on the board of the Montana Democratic Party. He made his first run for public office in 2022, in the Democratic primary for a seat on the Montana Public Service Commission. Last summer, he became the first Democratic candidate to announce a campaign for the eastern district seat this cycle.

Hamm says he’s proud to take on the label of “progressive,” even as he runs in a conservative-leaning district. He says even policies like the federal farm bill can be seen as progressive.

“I'm a progressive in the current political environment, but that basically means I think the roads and bridges should work, I think education should be funded, I think childcare should be available, I think housing should be affordable, I think we should take care of our homeless, I think that we should make sure that our farmers and ranchers are taken care of, and we should make sure that opportunity is available for people,” he said.

Kevin Hamm
Kevin Hamm, of Helena, candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat, spoke at the Montana Democratic Party's annual Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner, Mar. 2, 2024.

He says he wants to see Montana pass the proposed amendment to specifically add abortion rights to the state constitution, and he plans to help gather signatures at his campaign events to get it onto the ballot.

“I don't have a problem with saying the word abortion because abortion is health care, and I think it's really important that we speak plainly and straightforward,” he said.

Hamm and two of his fellow Democratic candidates signed on to a letter calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“I have no qualms about the fact that Hamas has been a terrorist organization; that does not justify the genocide of the Palestinian people,” he said. “It's a tough situation, and it's never going to be easy. It's going to require a lot of thought, it's going to require a lot of mediation, it’s going to require a lot of people spending a lot of time to get that to happen.”

Hamm says the Montanans he talks to are concerned about the rising cost of housing, child care and other challenges making it harder to live here. He says current policies give an unfair advantage to corporations and the wealthy, and he believes Montana’s history has shown people are willing to push back.

“We are uniquely in a place to say, ‘Hey, these are the things that we're going to do, and this is how we're going to make things better, because these are Montana values, these are Montana ideas, and this is the way Montana leads,’” he said.

Hamm is one of 12 candidates, including four Democrats, running for Montana’s eastern district U.S. House seat. You can find interviews with all of them here.