Flathead First is a nonpartisan, independent, grassroots group giving voice to those who want their governmental representatives to put this community, our families and neighbors first, ahead of partisan politics.
Flathead First donors are well known in this community. They represent families who have built and sustained the Flathead Valley’s parks, trails, public beaches, and gardens; its hospitals, churches, and museums; its centers of art, learning, and culture; its humanitarian, service, youth, and leadership programs.
Flathead First supporters are traditional, free-thinking Montana voters with a dim view of strict party lines and political extremism. We look beyond party affiliation at each candidate’s leadership skills, character, and ability to work well with others for the common good.
Flathead First has, thus far, been primarily an educational effort to inform ALL local voters about the importance of participating in the June Republican primary. This is not “crossover” voting. It is a legal right given to all Montanans. In the current election cycle, it was also the ONLY chance to vote for those who impact our lives the most.
Flathead First recognizes that Flathead County has become virtually a one-party county. This year, not a single Democrat filed for the three open county positions – commissioner, superintendent of schools, clerk and recorder – and no Democrats filed in three of the local races for state legislature.
Flathead First also recognizes that Flathead County’s Republican leadership has closed the door to anyone not sharing their exclusive brand of political extremism and intolerance of other viewpoints. This vastly shrunken political tent leaves no room for moderation and compromise, esteemed qualities of Montana’s legendary statesmen.
Flathead First includes many lifelong Republicans who feel homeless in the current political climate and are shocked by actions of the new party bosses: campaign mailers with false claims; highway billboards naming as their “hero” a Republican state legislator who says democracy is a failure; newspaper ads endorsing some Republican candidates and rejecting others, all according to some undefined and capricious standard.
Flathead First is not interested in defining who is, or is not, a “real” Republican or “real” Democrat. We are simply REAL Montanans who care deeply about the future of the Flathead. We have worked hard and made sacrifices to create a thriving, welcoming, caring and truly wonderful community. We appreciate good and wise governance, and do not wish to be ruled from an increasingly narrow point of view.
Flathead First is grateful to all who have trusted us to be honest, open and fair minded, and to all who have raised their voices together in the spirit of a strong community.
Flathead First formed in 2022 and was the subject of a recent opinion piece by a Flathead Beacon columnist.
Jim Watson is the deputy treasurer of Flathead First. He lives in Kalispell.
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