About Debra Lamm
A former Montana State Legislator and former State Republican Party Chairman, Debra has had success in the corporate world, as well as in business as an entrepreneur. As a citizen-activist, she has been instrumental in the Pro-Life movement, as well as education. First working for the Montana Family Foundation, and then as Founder of grassroots groups Montanans for School Choice and Montanans Against Common Core. Working to restore local control to schools, she was awarded the Milton Friedman Champion of Education Freedom award. As a guardian ad litem, she used her skills as a lawyer to advocate for neglected and abused children caught up in the court system. With her hard-earned graduate and law degrees, she is a skilled organizational troubleshooter, who brings a common sense approach to solving problems and achieving results. She and Joe, her husband of 32 years, live outside Livingston, Montana.
Those are the facts. But let Debra tell her own story:
I always wanted to achieve the American Dream.
“I grew up in a small rural Midwest farming town. But we were poor and I wanted something more from life.
I realized college was my ticket to the American Dream. But my parents weren’t in any position to help me. Determined to make college a reality, I went into problem-solving mode at a young age--I cleaned houses; I babysat, and I worked at a restaurant to pay for my future.
At age 16, I was finally able to work at the highest paying job in town—working at the canning factory. I processed peas, beans and corn, sometimes for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Standing on the concrete in the steam and heat of the factory was hard. I wondered if it was worth it. But I stayed focused on my dream of becoming a genetic researcher and a lawyer. I saved up the money from those summers, but I was still short of what I needed. So with determination I earned some scholarships and worked two jobs during college. I even took out some loans when I needed to. The hard work and determination paid off when I earned my degree in biological sciences and secondary education.”
Working in the Real World.
“My first professional job was in the pharmaceutical industry. I advanced quickly, and my boss encouraged me to earn a graduate degree. So again, I worked while I attended school, and graduated with an MBA with an emphasis in finance and management.
The company realized I was a unique problem solver, so I was given opportunities to fix problem departments, and spearhead new departments. I was actually an entrepreneur within the organization, honing my skills and abilities with each new position.
I was thought of as fearless. When the time came to make a presentation to the very intimidating company president, Donald Rumsfeld, the 2-time Secretary of Defense, everyone was afraid of him because he was a tough interrogator. But I volunteered to do it.”
Going back to law school
“I had never given up on my dream of becoming a lawyer, so I figured out a way to reach that goal. At 40 years old I graduated from law school and opened my own law firm. I hired the right people, voluntarily provided health insurance and paid good wages. Our firm worked to solve people’s problem, not earn big legal fees. A judge once told me that I was the most ethical attorney he knew. I was honored. “
Our dream home – Montana.
“After Joe and I married in 1987, we began discussing our ‘forever home.’ We kept coming back to Montana, and made the decision to move here and began saving and planning to do it. We finally were able to buy our property and build outside of Livingston and move to Montana.
Yes, the mountains, lakes, and rivers are incredible, and that big open sky is endless. But in the end, it’s the people that make Montana home for us. So I started looking for ways to serve with, and for, my fellow Montanans.”
Coming to politics as a citizen-activist, not a professional politician.
“I didn’t start out looking to run for an elected office. Instead, I came to politics as a citizen-activist working on two of the issues I hold most dear: the sanctity of life, and education choice.
When I learned about the abortion clinic in Livingston, I organized a pro-life group. With the help of like-minded Montanans, we were instrumental in shutting down the clinic.
Working with the Montana Family Foundation was a once in a lifetime opportunity building coalitions to pursue our shared values. I researched and wrote school choice and education reform legislation. But it’s not enough to write a bill. Some of my most important work was preparing the Constitutional arguments to defend our legislation when it came before lawmakers.
When Common Core came into our schools, I quickly organized a group to fight it. ‘Montanans Against Common Core’ took on the teachers’ union. That wouldn’t be my last fight with the education establishment.”
Moving into elected office as Legislator and Montana Republican Party State Chairman.
“Along that road, people started encouraging me to run for office, and I was honored to be elected to serve the people of State House District 60. As Vice-Chairman of the Education Committee, I fought for school choice and parental rights. I exposed our state education system for invading students’ and parents’ privacy by sharing personal data with outside companies. I wrote the bill to protect children and families fighting against the education establishment, and in the process, made enemies of the education establishment who didn’t want to give up their control. The head of the teachers union even went so far as to call me a ‘terrorist.’
Colleagues encouraged me to to run for chairman of the Montana Republican Party because they believed that I could grow the party organization with our conservative values and get back on track with fundraising. I promised two things: 1) if elected, I would serve full time as the UNPAID chairman, and 2) that I would not run for another office before my term was finished. Joe and I tightened our belts and cut expenses so I could work for free. I found new donors and strengthened our Central Committees. I loved working across the state to support candidates, our values and our Party. I completed my term in June of 2019, leaving the Party with historic assets ready to build for the 2020 elections.”
Entrepreneur & business owner—the American Dream.
“I am now back in the private sector as an entrepreneur with my husband, running a small business of multiple companies, including consulting and other services.
But I couldn’t stand on the sidelines while our country is at a tipping point—a future defined by socialism or American Exceptionalism. I have fought hard to live the American Dream and I want to keep it alive for future generations. We can only do that with committed servants who value our God-given liberty and are willing to take a stand.
I will continue to serve the people of this great state. I'm uniquely qualified for the job of representing you in Congress. I’ve been a problem-solver all my life, and now want to do that in Congress, to get results—together we will keep Montana and America great.”