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Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in Professor Nadia White’s

Public Affairs Reporting class at the University of Montana. You are free to share or
publish this story, provided you retain the reporter’s byline. Questions? Email
nadia.white@umontana.edu.

House District 92: Dan Stusek profile


By Carmen George

Aside from homework, sports, and enjoying the outdoors, University of Montana senior
Dan Stusek doesn’t fit the bill for the average 21-year-old college student. He’s running
as the Republican candidate for House District 92 in the Montana House of
Representatives, and will face Democrat Robin Hamilton, a 61-year-old retired high
school teacher.

“He is willing to run in a race where he didn’t have a leg up,” said Will Selph, state chair
of the College Republicans. “He doesn’t really back down from challenges.”

Stusek is a Billings native and state secretary for the College Republicans. He has
interned for Sen. Conrad Burns in Washington and with Rep. Denny Rehberg in
Missoula. He is also serving as a UM senator this year.

Stusek lives in the Rattlesnake within House District 92 boundaries.

“Dan is one of those outstanding individuals in the group,” said Selph of Stusek’s
involvement with the College Republican club. He said Stusek often coordinates events
and calls members, and that he spent his last two Spring Breaks campaigning with the
College Republicans at university campuses across Montana.

“Most college kids are pretty selfish with their Spring Breaks, but Dan was willing to go
with us,” Selph said.

If elected, Stusek said his primary focus will be on helping the Legislature gain power
over where tax dollars are spent, and developing natural resource use such as clean coal,
and drilling for oil in northeast Montana.

“I feel the quote-un-quote experts are the ones that make the decisions and not the people
who get the votes,” Stusek said. “We have to take more of our time and effort in
determining where these funds go. We need to stand up and be a powerful branch of
government.”

Stusek said that he see issues very differently from Hamilton.

“He’s a respected businessman,” Stusek said of Hamilton, “He has been in this
community for a long time. Although I don’t agree with him on most issues, I feel he
does his best to represent our district.”
Stusek said he would fund education with different policies than Hamilton, tapping taxes
from “homegrown” energy sources. Stusek also said that because Hamilton is a retired
high school teacher, Hamilton is also probably “more on the side of local government
education and the status quo,” than he is.

Stusek opposes the Healthy Montana Kids Plan initiative aiming to expand health
coverage for uninsured children.

“I think it’s unnecessary to take it to 250 percent above the poverty level,” Stusek said.
“These families, if they budget accordingly, can afford health care. As a conservative, I
don’t like the government stepping in to that extent. I oppose socializing it.”

As an ASUM senator he recently voted against a resolution to build a new Native


American Studies building, and opposed efforts that encouraged UM to buy Griz apparel
from “non-sweatshop” factories. He said that these resolutions did not include the
interests of a broad range of students, so he did not vote for them.

“I felt it was out of our jurisdiction as a body,” Stusek said, adding that he is often in the
minority of votes in the Senate. “Often times I feel people don’t want to hurt feelings or
speak up. Sometimes I feel like there are too many unanimous votes. We’re here to
represent voters. I like to question things before I make decisions.”

ASUM President Trevor Hunter said Stusek often votes without explaining his reasoning
to the group. He described him as “quiet and mostly passive,” in the Senate, and said he
hasn’t sought out many committees to sit on.

Stusek describes himself as “laid back, no drama” stating that he is very willing to listen
and is a “fan of political discussions but not political arguments.”

ASUM Vice President Siri Smillie described him as “friendly, intelligent and fun-loving,”
but said he can have a difficult time looking at the whole picture of a disagreement.

“I think he generally has a good attitude and is excited about policy making and being a
representative of the students,” she said. She said she is “excited he’s running as a young
college student.”

Stusek was the middle child of five siblings, and credited that in helping him become
more self-sufficient.
“I’m used to other people getting the majority of the attention,” Stusek said, adding that
he dislikes having to rely on the support of others. “I like to be more independent, and I
like taking care of myself.”

He works at Sports Authority part-time while going to school, and his favorite local
hangout is The Press Box. His favorite class at UM is World War Two military history.
He jogs often, collects cologne, and plays intramural volleyball and softball.

He said he didn’t respond to recent questionnaires sent to him by the Missoulian and
Project Vote Smart because he is “more a fan of the personal aspect,” with open
discussion. “I don’t want something that I say now to come back and bite me later on in
my political career.”