Like I Was Saying

Never-ending Elections

I’m not sure Arizona wants to send their ballots to Montana if the leader of their own party says we’re not counting them correctly

By Kellyn Brown

Before the map of Montana’s new second U.S. House district has even been drawn, four candidates have announced they are running for the office. That’s despite the fact that, when the dust has settled, they may not even live within its boundaries. 

Democratic state lawmaker Laurie Bishop, of Livingston, said if her town is drawn into incumbent at-large Republican Matt Rosendale’s district — a very real possibility — she will still run for the other seat, which will likely be more competitive. Monica Tranel, another Democrat who grew up in eastern Montana but now lives in the liberal stronghold of Missoula, has joined the race.

Two local Republicans, former Kalispell state Sen. Al Olszewski and former U.S. Congressman and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, have also announced their respective candidacies. Both assume the state’s second congressional district will be made up of western Montana and include Flathead County. That’s a good bet, but still not guaranteed.

Though Zinke served under former President Donald Trump, Olszewski says he is the real “Trump Conservative” and points to his lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, which is higher than his opponent’s. Zinke, for his part, kicked off his campaign by calling on the need to heal division within the country and blamed the capital for a culture of corruption in politics. 

“People say that Washington, D.C., is a swamp — I think that gives swamps a bad name,” Zinke told MTN News. “I think it’s a cesspool.”

As the primaries begin in earnest, Trump already endorsed his former cabinet member despite Olszewski’s conservative bonafides. Either way, whoever prevails on the GOP ticket will have a good shot at convincing Trump to join them on the campaign trail, or at least Trump, Jr. 

Members of the family made several trips to the state in 2018 during their failed attempt to oust incumbent U.S. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. And as Trump has returned to hosting rallies, Montana is already on his mind.  

At an event in Wellington, Ohio on June 26 the former president lashed out at our state’s voting methods and alleged widespread irregularities in at least one county. 

“In Montana, over 6 percent of a certain county’s mail-ballots are missing, evidence to prove that if they were legitimate or not, that they’re missing. All this evidence. Think of it, Montana. You know, a lot of mail-in ballots. Where you have mail-in ballots.”

Trump won this state by more than 16 percentage points over President Joe Biden, and Republican Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen’s communications director confirmed to the Daily Montanan that there are no reports of missing ballots. 

“The office is not aware of any county election official that has self-reported missing absentee ballots.” 

Meanwhile, according to multiple reports, “copies of voting system data” from another state recently arrived in Montana. The widely panned Maricopa County, Arizona election audit team, led by a contractor named CyberNinjas, apparently sent servers and hard drives to a lab in the Swan Lake area.  

I’m not sure Arizona wants to send their ballots to Montana if the leader of their own party says we’re not counting them correctly, but here we are. The midterms are about 15 months away, politicians are laying out their respective platforms, and a nonpartisan commission is about to draw our new congressional district. 

Yet somehow the previous election hasn’t ended yet.