Uncommon Ground

Hunger for Change

Not since the transformational days of Brian Schweitzer have we seen locals this excited about state politics

By Mike Jopek

It was getting dark as I walked into the Northern in downtown Whitefish. All the tables were full of locals and people were standing throughout the watering hole. I eased my way into the back room where musicians often play.

There, campaign energy radiated like I hadn’t felt in years. Not since the days of Brian Schweitzer had I experienced the Northern this abuzz with people excited for new state leadership. It was refreshing, invigorating and felt familiar, like a movement of change.

Schweitzer-level energy filled the Northern, that same venue in which Bruce Springsteen played Mustang Sally and Shake, Rattle and Roll to locals in the mid ‘90s. This evening the place was nearly as full as the days when bluegrass bands played to standing-room-only crowds.

I’d been on stage at the Northern plenty during my campaign days, but that’s almost 20 years ago. We held pig roasts and opened taps to locals who came to hear a message for a better way. The mic has power and on some dark nights, I miss the show.

I waded through the crowd and chatted with a lot of locals, and plenty of new faces since I’d been on the campaign trail. There was an energy to this room. The locals were out and excited to meet the new lieutenant governor candidate from Great Falls.

Word got out and people showed up. That magic underground message network still works. Folks turned out, bigtime. Locals appear hungry to get their Montana back.

Raph Graybill would soon take the stage. His grandfather, Leo Graybill, was the Chairman of the 1972 Constitutional Convention in Montana. Fifty years earlier, the elder Graybill had seated the members of the convention in alphabetical order in the State House to produce a great vision.

It wasn’t about the party, Democrat or Republican. It was about Montana and the people of our great state. No other state constitution in the nation says that “The state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.”

Montanans enjoy strong protections in our state Constitution, which says “The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.”

Raph Graybill was born and raised in the Electric City of Great Falls. For four years, a young Graybill served the New York City Police Department as an Auxiliary Police Officer, patrolling the streets of Harlem. In law school, he prosecuted terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Graybill is an educated man, graduated from Great Falls High, Columbia University, Yale Law School and the University of Oxford.

Raph Graybill returned home, is raising a family, and has blocked a dozen of the Legislature’s most unconstitutional laws, ones which invade Montanans’ rights and freedoms. Graybill is undefeated in court, overturning the Legislature’s multiple unconstitutional state abortion bans.

As Graybill took the stage, the crowd at the Northern cheered, whistled and hooted. From what I hear across Montana, this kind of crowd size and electricity is not uncommon. People are turning out to hear from governor candidate Ryan Busse of Kalispell as he travels across the fourth largest state, meeting people and talking with locals.

A Busse/Graybill ticket offers plenty of excitement and vision for working Montanans who are feeling overcharged, underappreciated. Not since the transformational days of Brian Schweitzer have we seen locals this excited about state politics.

Change was in the downtown air. It’s a long way from here to November and there’s plenty of opportunity to help. Much of elections are about enthusiasm and vision. Ryan Busse and Raph Graybill offered the crowd at the packed Northern plenty of both.