Opinion

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Closing Range

Dave’s Primary Primer

Republicans have a busy ballot this time, while Flathead Democrats only have one statewide race to bother with

Primary Election Day, June 5, is coming up fast. Republicans have a busy ballot this time, while Flathead Democrats only have one statewide race to bother with.

Statewide, there’s the U.S. Senate GOP nomination, where Republicans (and plenty of Democrats, I’m sure), will pick either Russ Fagg, Al Olszewski, Troy Downing, or Matt Rosendale to challenge incumbent Montana Sen. Jon Tester.

Tester is reported to have $10 million piled up, plus the national Dems really want to firewall the U.S. Senate. So, while on a personal and vote-record level, Al is my favorite, he’s just not raising the moolah.

Russ Fagg, from Billings? As a judge, he’s got no record. Endorsements? Those I’ve read, from names I recognize – are from noisy RINOs.

Then we have two guys with serious money, Downing and Rosendale, having made their fortunes out of state, then moving to Montana. Carpetbaggers? Well, I’m more concerned that the candidates “get” Montana and behave like actual western Republicans.

Troy Downing could be a neat candidate. Internet startup millionaire, research scientist at New York University, signs up with the Air Force as a rescue helicopter pilot after 9/11, owns a Czech L-39 jet trainer ($3,500 per flight hour) – pretty cool.

Not so cool, Downing has a minimal record, with his biggest donation ($1,000) going to that great GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman. Further, Downing’s Montana (Yellowstone Club) “residence” is questionable. He is currently in court over allegations he had prematurely bought resident elk tags (only $29) rather than nonresident (up to $885) not just once, but multiple times. His lawyers are burning up the money he “saved.”

Matt Rosendale? Yep, he made his fortune in real estate back east in Maryland, using the winnings to buy a ranch near Glendive, and after a decent interval, ran for Montana House in 2010, beating a Democratic incumbent. Then, local voters sent him to the state Senate in 2012 by a fat margin. He came in third in the 2014 Congressional race (Ryan Zinke won). Finally, in 2016 Rosendale won statewide, becoming state auditor. With a track record (conservative and clean), statewide “name,” and money, Rosendale could give Tester and the national Dem machine a headache, maybe even win.

Here in Flathead County, both the Republican sheriff and commissioner races are four-way contests.

For commissioner, Gary Krueger is incumbent against, in order of apparent conservatism, Jay Scott, Randy Brodehl and Ronalee Skees. The “anti-Krueger” faction will have to split their votes three ways, so Krueger’s odds of going to the general are pretty good.

In the sheriff race, well, I haven’t been arrested lately so I’m not “acquainted” with any of the candidates, plus law enforcement shouldn’t be political. I’d hoped Chuck Curry would take another term, and I hope our next sheriff keeps up the good work at a hardening job.

Finally, no matter which party ballot we choose June 5, is something that shouldn’t be there at all, the bogus Egan Slough zoning initiative.

Montana Artesian won’t suck the Flathead dry, a reality I laid out in the Beacon back in February of 2017, which both Montana DEQ and DNRC, however reluctantly, later conceded in permitting the proposal last fall.

So opponents sued for a vote, three times, losing before Judge Heidi Ulbricht and the Montana Supreme Court before, third-time charm, District Judge Robert Allison rendered a stunning order for the county to present a “rationale that specifically addresses all the public comments,” on “each topic/issue” raised – a ridiculous burden, or – put up a ballot referendum.

The referendum shamefully seeks ex-post-facto, or after the fact, retroactive lawmaking, basically an arbitrary and capricious case of “spot zoning” that is guaran-dang-teed to make everyone in the county liable for millions in court claims.

But worst of all, Judge Allison has enabled a scary situation where, with enough votes, the rights of anything and anyone (not just property rights) can be singled out and subjected to the tyranny of a majority, no matter how transient or misguided – in short, mob rule.

Well, facts, law and rights still matter to me. I’m voting “No.”

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