Montana Politics: Wittich v. O’Hara

At least the divide in the Montana Republican Party is entertaining to watch – and fun to commentate about.

On March 5, the Great Falls Tribune published opinions from Republican State Rep. Jesse O’Hara and one from Republican Public Service Commission member Roger Koopman. I wrote about it HERE.

Rep. Jesse O’Hara wrote:

Somewhere along the way, extremists have anointed themselves the arbiters of all things Republican. The failed leadership team of Sens. Art Wittich and Jason Priest, along with their mouthpieces, Jeff Essmann and Edward Walker, illustrated their 10-year plan to purge the party in a series of leaked emails.

Yesterday (March 11) the majority leader of the Montana Senate, Republican Art Wittich, responded to O’Hara calling O’Hara’s opinion a “hit piece.” He threw this little dagger:

Once we adjourned the Legislature, Jesse sold his house in Great Falls and moved to Florida. So I was surprised to see O’Hara’s letter, as I hear the only time he leaves his beach chair is to walk to the mailbox to collect his teacher pension and state health care benefits. He literally can’t afford to reform the status quo.

It’s amazing how some Republicans feel about teachers. It’s almost like if you are a public school teacher, you are evil in some Republican’s eyes.

As for the beach chair and soaking up the sun comments, most of us would love to have our butts parked in a beach chair while we are enjoying retirement. I say good for O’Hara.

Wittich closes his opinion piece with “I cherish liberty, and work hard to preserve it.” I enjoy the “cherish liberty” part, because I do, too. I always felt if you have to tell folks you are working hard, you probably aren’t. Then again, maybe it’s tougher eating free food and drinking free booze for those 90 days in Helena, than it seems.

The fact is that the last two Montana Legislative sessions have been like watching a three-ring circus, with the last session being probably the nastiest in terms of Republican Party squabbles. The failure of the Republican leadership in the last session was evident to all who paid attention – and that was mostly because they were just as O’Hara said, “extremists.”


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