By Kay Braddock
It was a decision that’s been stirring awhile, said Prairie County farmer Dennis Teske when asked to describe his reasons for filing as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate race.
“It’s the last thing I thought I’d ever do,” said the 61-year-old farmer who filed last week.
Teske’s move pits him against longtime Congressman Denny Rehberg for the Republican nomination. Rehberg, who is serving his sixth term in the U.S. House, is challenging freshman Democrat Senator Jon Tester for the U.S. Senate seat.
Although he agrees he may be a novice when it comes to the political arena, Teske says his experience as a farmer for the past 15 years and owner of numerous gas stations in Seattle, Wash., and Casper, Wyo., have taught him two things about Washington D.C. politics – their spending is out of control and federal regulations are killing small businesses.
“I fear we’re going to bankrupt this country,” Teske said of the nation’s current spending habits.
He points to the goal set out by the Super Committee as one prime example. A Joint Select Committee made up of lawmakers with the goal of deficit reduction, Teske says their failed attempt to reduce $1.4 trillion over 10 years didn’t even scratch the surface of what needed to be done.
“Our nation is going upside down $1.4 trillion every year,” Teske said. “Politicians have promised people everything under the sun. We can’t afford that kind of government.”
Teske points to three changes that he says need to take place to begin putting the nation’s spending habits back in order – adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, getting rid of the current tax system by moving to a straight flat tax or a national sales tax and requiring every federal agency to come before Congress and explain their function and need to exist. He points to several agencies that have overstepped their bounds.
“We really need to have a government that pays attention to its people,” he said.
Teske and his wife Rita moved to Prairie County in 1996 and have been farming north of Terry since then. Producing a beet crop for 12 years, the couple now raises wheat, soy beans and pinto beans. Married 42 years in May, the couple first met in high school in Chinook, Mont., and have three sons and nine grandchildren.
Besides owning numerous gas stations in Wyo., and Wash., Teske and his wife owned a trucking business in Havre, Mont., and he worked for oil companies in Gillette, Wyo., as a truck driver and roughneck in the early years of their marriage.
Teske said his faith in God compelled him to make this political step. Regardless of the outcome, Teske said he felt led to step up and stand for his convictions.
With several speaking engagements lined up at Lincoln-Reagan Dinners throughout the state, Teske said he hopes to get his message across.
Admitting to what he doesn’t know about politics, his concerns for the country’s financial well being rings through in his poignant statement of what he does understand, “I know how to balance a checkbook.”
Published Jan. 25, 2012