Robert Ernest Quist was born in Cut Bank, Montana on 5 January 1948, and he played basketball at the University of Montana before joining the Mission Mountain Wood Band and becoming a country musician in 1966. His songs were recorded by artists such as Michael Martin Murphey and Loretta Lynn, and he was appointed to the Montana Arts Council by Governor Brian Schweitzer. Quist was a Democratic Party supporter, practicing "prairie populism" by supporting a single-payer healthcare system, opposing the AHCA (Trumpcare), criticizing inequality, opposing tax cuts for millionaires and tax hikes for working-class people, the privatization of federal lands, military intervention, regime change, a religious ban, diverting funding from education and healthcare to the military, and supporting abortion rights, same-sex marriage, environmental regulations, and clean coal. On 25 May 2017, he served as the Democratic candidate during the at-large congressional district elections in his state, going up against Republican Party challenger Greg Gianforte. Quist was found to have had unpaid taxes, causing a scandal that led to him losing the election to Gianforte, who also had a scandal involving an assault on a The Guardian reporter.