The Republican Senate primary is coming up. When I don’t know candidates well, I utilize a process of elimination by examining each candidate’s “means, motive, and opportunity.” We have two candidates in the Republican primary who were not raised in Montana. One, Matt Rosendale, owns a ranch near Glendive and hails from Maryland recently enough to continue to carry an East Coast accent. The other, Troy Downing, owns a house in Big Sky, and states he started living in Montana in 2009.
Matt Rosendale is the sitting state auditor for Montana. When he ran for state auditor, he implored Montanans that voting for him was imperative to ensuring the future of State Trust lands managed by the State Land Board (of which the auditor is a member). If Matt Rosendale wins the Senate seat, Gov. Steve Bullock will fill the auditor position with a Democrat. When Republicans express this concern to Mr. Rosendale, his response (now) is that it doesn’t matter who holds the auditor seat for State Land Board purposes. This juxtaposition leaves me questioning Mr. Rosendale’s candor. Moreover, when Mr. Rosendale was running for Congress in 2014, I asked him what his plans were to save Social Security from insolvency. His response was to privatize Social Security. This answer, coupled with his lack of candor with Montana voters, reflects a unique misunderstanding of Montana values.
Everything I need to know about Mr. Downing is revealed in how he regards our Montana cops, prosecutors, farmers and teachers. Mr. Downing is involved in nine criminal cases where his residency and hunting ethics are squarely at issue. He claims these citations were the result of an unspecified “deep state” conspiracy against him. This allegation is plainly absurd. Insulting professionals who protect Montana’s heritage is not a winning strategy. Moreover, Mr. Downing argues Sen. Jon Tester isn’t qualified to represent Montana not because of how he votes, but because Sen. Tester is a teacher and a farmer. Mr. Downing doesn’t realize agriculture is a lifeblood industry in this state, and farmers are business owners. Finally, insulting the professionals we rely heavily upon to provide the instruction and guidance necessary for social and economic success is insulting to all Montanans.
Being raised in Montana isn’t the predictor of Montana values; however, these two candidates have not adopted Montana values as their own. Both have the means to buy our votes, and both have tried to do so. Their motives, reflected by their own actions, are self-serving. Montana presents an opportunity to fool us “simple folks” into believing they share our core values. From my vantage point, they fail the “means, motive, and opportunity” test, thus I intend to direct my consideration to the remaining Republican candidates.
Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.
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