Williams Rides Gun Safety Message to Upset Win in MT-AL

LEAPer Kathleen Williams has won the Democratic primary for the Montana at-large Congressional seat. While runner-up John Heenan has yet to concede, Williams defeated her nearest rival by 2 percent and nearly 2,000 votes for the right to take on Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte - best known for committing an act of violence against a reporter - in November.

Williams accomplished this despite being outraised by nearly 3:1, but her progressive platform - including the strongest statements of any candidate in the race on gun reform - will be the one that represents Democrats on the ballot this fall. In a state like Montana, most candidates - Democrat and Republican - often seek to couch their language when it comes to firearms. While Heenan called for some incremental measures like outlawing bump stocks, he also promised to "oppose any effort to restrict the second Amendment," Williams openly advocated for limiting access to semiautomatic assault-style weapons, saying it was "a small price for keeping public schoolchildren safe."

"My bright line is stopping the massacres, and if you look at what is common in all of the last six massacres, it's the weapon," William told Lee Montana in April. "My husband and I, we never felt the need to own an AR-15. I called my sportsman friends who are endorsing this campaign because I didn't want to surprise them. I talked it through with them and they said the same thing."

Williams is the latest proof that Democratic voters in red states respond to strong gun safety platforms. Along with candidates like Tabitha Isner in Alabama, and Cindy Axne in Iowa, and Kara Eastman and Megan Hunt in Nebraska, she should be seen as a model for how candidates approach the issue in the post-Parkland political environment. I'm extremely happy for her, and look forward to following her campaign through November, and her career in Washington.