Replacing Rosendale


Joel Krautter, Republican candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat

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Posted at 9:00 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 13:54:15-04

BILLINGS — In a crowded field of eight, Republican primary candidates for Montana's eastern U.S. House district will often do anything they can to differentiate themselves. Billings attorney Joel Krautter might have the biggest 'trump' card: he will not vote for the former president in the 2024 election.

(Watch: MTN's profile on Joel Krautter)

Joel Krautter, Republican candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat

At the Yellowstone County Lincoln Reagan dinner last month, Krautter was the only one of the eight candidates on stage to say he wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2024.

"I’ve taken an oath to defend the U.S. and Montana Constitutions," Krautter said, "and I don’t believe based on former President Trump's words and deeds after the 2020 election that he will follow the Constitution if it doesn’t serve his purposes."

"Some of the things he’s said and done has led me to believe I can’t vote for him."

It’s not a new stance for Krautter. He says he’s disagreed with much of current Eastern District Representative - and pro-Trump Republican - Matt Rosendale’s voting record during his time in Congress.

Krautter was elected to Montana’s House of Representatives in 2018 when he lived in Sidney, joining the Solutions Caucus made up of generally centrist lawmakers.

"Something I believe in is bipartisan solutions," he said. "We’re so divided as a nation right now, and that's why I think we’re so dysfunctional."

Krautter lost his seat in 2020 in the Republican primary to Brandon Ler, a hard-right conservative.

"It was a surprise," Krautter admitted. "But I have to roll with the punches. I’m someone where If I get knocked down, I have to get back up."

Joel Krautter
Joel Krautter, Republican candidate for Montana's eastern U.S. House seat, received an endorsement from the Montana Federation of Public Employees.

In his two years in Helena, Krautter earned high marks from the Montana Farm Bureau as a champion of agriculture. It’s one of his key positions again.

"Agriculture is the heart and soul of our Eastern Montana economy," he said. "When cattle markets are doing well, when wheat is doing well, it means more dollars in everyone’s pocket. So I want to see a strong Farm Bill."

"I think this district hasn’t had a strong champion on Ag since Ron Marlenee represented it."

That was over 30 years ago. Krautter also was recently endorsed by the Montana Federation of Public Employees, the state’s largest union made up of teachers, law enforcement, and local government officials, among others. That variety is what Krautter is counting on.

"To win, I've got to build a broad coalition, and that's be trying to be inclusive," he said. "I've got to be a problem-solver, and that’s what my brand is."

It's crucial to have one in a field this crowded.

You can find interviews with all of the candidates for the eastern district seat here.