Montana’s U.S. House Primary

By Beacon Staff
By Joe Carbonari

Voting is open for this year’s primary and closes in about three weeks. Prime on the Republican ballot is the U.S. House seat. Ryan Zinke seems to have the lead, and he seems to deserve it. He’s obviously smart, tough and rooted in Montana. As to whether he’s pure enough for a plurality of his primary’s voters, it remains to be seen.

Matt Rosendale appears to have a chip on his shoulder and a predilection to cover it with a gun. As portrayed in his ads, he is neither convincing nor comforting. I would not put him in charge of anyone’s militia. I don’t know him personally, but Corey Stapleton is a different matter. He is a Naval Academy graduate and a two-term state senator. He appears to be neither a fool nor foolish. His momentum, however, seems to be diminishing, and a recent TV ad, his own, had him looking almost apologetic, as if his ship had just gone down. Not promising.

Elsie Arntzen is interesting; I like her enthusiasm and energy, but I’m afraid we’d find ourselves far apart on many of today’s issues. I suspect that she’s a good debater, but to me her leadership potential seems untested.

I expect we’ll see Zinke on the Republican side and John Lewis from the Democrats. Two worthy candidates.

By Tim Baldwin

Republican candidates for U.S. House are in a serious primary battle. Like the last Republican primary for governor, this race has many competitors: Ryan Zinke, Corey Stapleton, Matt Rosendale, Elsie Arntzen and Drew Turiano. This means one can win with far less than a majority vote, but is this a Democratic result?

Some Montana political analysts predict that if Republicans do not focus on electing Stapleton and instead vote for the Tea Party type, Rosendale, then the most liberal candidate, Zinke, will win the primary. This will be too disappointing for many conservatives, thus excusing them to vote third party in the general election and helping another Democrat win federal office.

It appears true that people who prefer Rosendale would much rather Stapleton win than Zinke. The question becomes, can Rosendale realistically get more votes than Zinke when Stapleton (who came second in the 2012 governor primary) is likely to get a large portion of votes? In many conservative circles, the answer is no.

This result is disappointing and even unacceptable for some. The solution to this undemocratic problem, however, rests less in party politics than in election laws. If the top two vote-getters in the primary (who do not get over 50 percent of the vote) had to face off, people could vote their conscience without fear of the “greater evil” going to the general election.

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