The Wednesday Read: Montana’s Special Election

Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable. – John Kenneth Galbraith

Unless a great Libertarian candidate for Montana’s open At-Large House seat is nominated to run, the choice between Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte will be a tough one for this blogger. Maybe it will be a tough choice for you, too.

So heads-up to these candidates and their staffers – you have some selling to do in the next 79 days.

Here are some of my thoughts about the race between Rob Quist and Greg Gianforte.

Both candidates are probably pretty nice fellows. I don’t think I have ever met either. Both have some baggage. Both seem to represent their political parties pretty well, but it seems this race will be between a far-leftie and a far-rightie.

Since my views range from somewhat conservative to somewhat liberal on those political tests, I find myself in a pickle.

If you’ve read my commentary on this website very much, then you know that I am tired of Montana’s U.S. House seat being used as a stepping stone for some other office or position.

In the past, those holding that seat have let their egos take over (Rehberg, Daines, and Zinke) and have put their own wishes ahead of the state. We end up at the bottom of the seniority list because nobody will stay in the seat long enough to gain some seniority.

I don’t really care if my only U.S. House member is a Democrat or a Republican – I just want someone who wants to do the best job possible. We need a person who wanted the job and someone young enough to be able to stay in the seat and gain some clout for Montana.

I don’t really feel that way with Quist or Gianforte.

Rob Quist is 69. If elected, I don’t see him wanting to stay in the grind of being Montana’s lone House member for very long. I read somewhere that he would stay in the seat for as long as the people wanted him. That was the correct answer to give. Being a U.S. Representative is not a few night shows on the road each week. This is a two-year tour (less in this special election) in which the folks who work at the airports will see more of him than his family – and he will need to be campaigning and raising money year-round. By the way, there are a lot of jerks in the U.S. House, where everyone thinks they are class president.

Greg Gianforte is 55. If elected, he might stay in the seat a little longer, but he seems like he is looking for something bigger – with a brighter spotlight. Gianforte told the Associated Press that he would seek at least two terms if he wins the special election this year. That probably means he will run for Governor in 2020 and not pay too much attention to his job in the U.S. House if elected. This race is kind of like a “rebound” romance for Gianforte since he lost the gubernatorial race to Steve Bullock in November. At least he’s getting right back on the horse!

Quist has a gun issue to deal with which is normally a killer for any candidate who wants more gun control in Montana. Quist was talking about assault rifles and gave the Republicans the perfect line to attack him with, “You register your car to drive, why not register guns.” He was talking about assault rifles, but he’ll need to spend some money to get that point across. He also has some other liberal or progressive stands that he will need to defend.

A GOP super PAC went after Quist the day after he won the nomination with a $700,000 ad buy in Montana. Before that, Gianforte was on the air promoting himself – even before he won the nomination. These two things just make the mountain harder to climb for Quist. The Democrats will need to have “all hands on deck” to help Quist be successful.

As for Gianforte, the Bullock campaign has the notes on how to beat him: He’s very rich and he is not from around these parts, plus he sued the state over stream access, and he once advocated for a sales tax in Montana.

I think Gianforte really needs to come across as a kinder and gentler person in his commercials – to me he comes across as a know-it-all smart ass. A few of my friends told me they said, “Not again” (or worse) when Gianforte recently started airing more campaign commercials.

In the next 79 days, I hope we’ll see a few debates between the candidates so I can get an answer to the burning question: Quist or Gianforte?

Quist or Gianforte? You Pick:

NOTE: Don’t forget to take The Western Word poll which asks, “Who do you want to be the next U.S. Representative for Montana?” CLICK HERE.

The results will be published in my “Thursday Numbers” column.

*Rob Quist Campaign website

*Greg Gianforte Campaign website

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4 thoughts on “The Wednesday Read: Montana’s Special Election

  1. I’ve met Gianforte three times and Barry’s observation that he’s pragmatic and honest, but I agree with yours too that he can be a know-it-all smart ass too. When he gets offended by something (which happens when he doesn’t think you understand him), look for that roll of the eyes as he looks away.

    Haven’t met Quist yet. I hope his now MT-Dem-Party-machine-run campaign can do a little better on his event schedule. Would have seen him in Missoula the other night if that had been listed. Ha, maybe that’s why it wasn’t.

    Anyways, I’m hearing the DNC will withhold money from Quist if he’s not polling well. Internal polls are probably being embarked upon now, but I bet we’ll get a good idea of what they show come April.

    ID and MT Cowgirl are two other good barometers, as they stick to the Party line. Not a lot of Quist posts and more of this silly Zinke stuff? Good sign that National is not interested in ‘wasting’ money on this race.

    It’s a little too early, but if the Dems don’t win this one…then what?

    Don’t forget their convention is about 2 to 3 weeks after May 25.

    • Greg – Thanks for your comments. You wrote, “If the Dems don’t in this…then what?” They will have another chance in 18 months to knock off Gianforte. Since Gianforte does not want to stay in the seat for long, it may be another open seat in 4 years. -JmB

  2. Quist has “that” liberal logic thing going, driving a car in the US is a privilege attained by taking a drivers test. The car is licensed and comes with a registration to prove ownership, not your ability to drive or capability to drive or your qualifications to own one. No argument there, all done by law in every state where it is required. A gun is a National Right and does not require or need a registration to do so. Argument closed, Mr. Quist. That carries as much weight as a state drivers license being accepted nationally, so then should concealed carry…not necessarily.

    If Quist is 69 now, he may be the only one to stay. as you so want, Gianforte does want bigger opportunities and I like a guy thinking big working for me, not a old guy doing it because no one from his party can…

    With a lone Congressional seat in Montana, we are only a stepping stone along their path, you really need to seek some help with this one! And why do you only list GOPer’s for bailing out to move on to other things. Baucus left to be Senator, Melcher left to finish Battin’s term, and Rehberg should get a pass for serving 12 years and losing an election to Testor. Just a few thoughts. I have met Gianforte twice, pragmatic and honest; never heard of Rob Quist, was he on Hee Haw?

    • Barry – After reading your comments, and this is just a guess, but I think you are pulling for Gianforte.

      Like I said in my column, both candidates seem to be on the extreme edges of their political parties.

      You asked some questions, let me answer them:

      Why do I only list GOPers? Melcher and Baucus did it too, although that was when Montana had two U.S. House seats. After Williams took over for Baucus he served 18 years, Ron Marlenee served 16 years after taking over for Melcher. They had some clout built up after Baucus and Melcher jumped ship.

      As for Rehberg, after 12 years he was getting some seniority built up and then he threw it all away to run against Tester.

      As for Gianforte wanting bigger opportunities, that is fine with me as long as he doesn’t screw over Montana doing it. He comes across as wanting to buy everything.

      You said, “With a lone Congressional seat in Montana, we are only a stepping stone along their path, you really need to seek some help with this one!”
      I know better than most that seniority matters in the House and Senate. With Tester being senior and being only on his second term, Montana does not have the clout to get things done.

      As for Quist being on Hee Haw, maybe so. He is 69 so maybe he did appear on Hee Haw. The show ended in 1992.

      Thanks for your comments!


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