Montana conservatives had an historic night on Election Day. After taking out a slew of Republicans in the primary – some voting with Democrats over 200 times during the last legislative session – conservatives swept seats by comfortable margins around the state. In Cascade County, Republicans won every legislative seat. With Governor-elect Greg Gianforte at the helm, conservatives will have a real chance to make Montana’s economy rival those of Florida and Texas.
During the China virus pandemic, out-of-staters from places like California and Washington have flocked to Montana like refugees – many buying up real estate with cash offers, sight unseen. This presents all Montanans with the responsibility of educating our new neighbors on why Montana is the last best place to live, work, and raise a family. After all, people do not leave Seattle just because they do not like the weather.
After talking with conservative leaders in California and Washington, it is clear that the sum of elitist liberals’ policies completely eliminated the middle class. That is how socialism works. Our responsibility as conservatives will be to fundamentally reset government and put our middle class first. Yes, we want to attract the investment that will provide jobs and build our economy up, but we cannot afford to do so at the expense of those whose families have spent generations making us what we are today. The heart of Montana is in communities like Lewistown, Havre, Sidney, Great Falls, and Colstrip – not the billionaires’ campground known as Big Sky.
Montana values include protecting the unborn, securing our Second Amendment right, and developing our natural resources. People are free to not own a firearm, drink from paper straws, and drive an electric vehicle, but we cannot allow this to become a mandate from the heavy hand of government. With conservative majorities in the legislature, a Republican governor, and strong attorney general, we are in a position to expand our freedoms and defend them when dark money groups try to challenge them in court.
As Governor-elect Gianforte and conservative legislators work to undo 16 years of damage done by Democratic governors, we all have a duty to rally our new neighbors behind their conservative agenda. If we do not educate our new neighbors, our chapter of governing could easily become the calm before the storm when radical liberals sweep back into power and make us an extension of the left coast. They need to know that our coal funds the school their children attend, the parks they play in, and the libraries they read in.
With about 44% of our state budget being made up from federal dollars, we will have to find ways to become more financially independent from the federal government. Federal aid does not reduce the national debt and often comes with strings attached. By growing our economy in ways that expand the middle class, keeps home ownership within reach for those who work, and keeps our small businesses and family farms strong – we will remain the last best place in America.
Republican Randy Pinocci represents District 1 on the Montana Public Service Commission.
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