By Ed Berry, PhD, Physics
On June 5, 2018, Montana Republicans will choose one of four candidates to go against incumbent Democrat Senator Jon Tester in November. Only one of the four Republican candidates can beat Senator Tester.
There are no public polls to help predict who will win. Therefore, I base my prediction entirely on Montana voter demographics, the positions of candidates on a critical issue, and the face of the Republican Party where were each candidate derives fundamental support.
First, let’s talk about the critical issue.
The 2015 bill to ratify the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Water Compact was arguably the most contentious bill in the Montana legislature in 40 years. The Compact won by only one vote in Montana’s legislature because the legislature did not represent the Republican Party. Instead, the legislature over represented the right-wing radical tea party. The story of Montana’s Last Indian Water Compact is a story about the split in the Republican Party.
On May 24, 2018, Kayla Sargent of Western Ag Reporter wrote about the positions of the five Senate candidates on the Compact.
Her article shows Senator Tester is well prepared to battle any candidate who opposes the Compact. His Fact Sheet notes the Hellgate Treaty of 1885 gave CSKT off-reservation water rights:
“These treaty rights are legally binding, and without a water compact, the Salish and Kootenai Tribes, local landowners, and the federal government will enter into lengthy litigation that could cost taxpayers significantly more money than the total price of the CSKT Water Compact.”
“Failure to ratify the CSKT Water Compact could cost taxpayers up to 14 times more than the current cost of the compact to fully fulfill the federal government’s treaty obligations.”
Tester’s Fact Sheet says the CSKT Water Compact will solve five critical problems:
- It would avoid costly litigation,
- ratify the CSKT water compact with the State of Montana,
- protect water claims of existing rights holders,
- resolve the CSKT’s water-related claims against the federal government, and
- provide the resources needed for the Tribes to invest in critical water infrastructure — benefitting all member in Flathead and Lake Counties.
Here are the candidate quotes provided by Sargent.
Senator Jon Tester:
“The Tribes, landowners, and local officials have worked for over a decade to strike a deal that upholds treaty obligations, protects existing water rights, and saves money.”
“I believe there are still outstanding constitutional questions to the compact and I will not deviate from the Constitution of the United States.”
“First of all, it was supported by Montana Grain Growers, Farm Bureau, and Stockgrowers. All the stakeholders were represented in the negotiations and I support negotiated deals rather than going to court whenever possible. I know how time consuming and costly it could get in court. All of these groups spent literally hundreds of hours researching it and support it, so I think it is the best negotiation for Montana.”
“For those that say it is unconstitutional, it was challenged in Montana Supreme Court and determined to be constitutional.”
“We can’t give water that belongs to the people of Montana away to a third party without some sort of remuneration.”
“It creates unprecedented rights that have never been seen in Montana or even the United States. It grants over 27 million acre-feet of water to the tribes, a little over 5,000 people, and they don’t have to show beneficial use of the water.”
“The one issue that catches attention is aboriginal water rights. It is a timestamp against all ranchers, irrigators and farmers, that gives the tribe time immemorial rights and those would trump even territorial water rights. If this is approved, all the tribes are going to request water rights and when that happens there will be no water for the people of Montana. At that point you just as well rip out the page of the Montana Constitution that says Montana people have the rights to the state’s water.”
“While serving in the Montana Legislature, I fought hard against the CSKT Water Compact. We’ve had other water compacts come before the Legislature and pass with near unanimous support from both legislators and the communities but that was not the case with this one. There were numerous issues here especially with the $1.3 billion price tag and off-reservation water rights. Just like we did with the other water compacts, we need to build consensus and find support from all stakeholders.”
Here are my comments on the candidate responses.
My book “Montana’s Last Indian Water Compact,” shows the legal basis of the Compact in Chapter 6 and the legal rebuttals to the invalid claims by Olszewski, Rosendale, and Downing in Chapters 7 and 8. It shows Senator Tester and Judge Fagg are correct about the Compact.
Olszewski and Rosendale voted against the Compact in the Montana legislature. They lost. Now, they can’t get over it.
Olszewski, Rosendale, and Downing ignore the professional rebuttals to their unfounded legal claims. They do not understand that the courts, not legislators, have the expertise and authority to decide legal issues.
The Montana legislature ratified the Compact. The Montana Supreme Court declared opponents objections to the Compact invalid and the Compact constitutional.
Olszewski and Rosendale and Downing imply they would work to block the Compact in the US Senate. In doing so, they oppose the will of the people of Montana. It is time for our representatives in Congress to support the will of the people.
Opponents think the Compact must be perfect. They don’t get it. It only has to be better than the alternative of no Compact. The fact is Montana is better served with the CSKT Compact than without the Compact. This simple comparison is an IQ test for political candidates. Tester and Fagg pass the test. Olszewski, Rosendale, and Downing do not.
If Montana voters nominate Olszewski, Rosendale, or Downing, Senator Tester will make the Republican nominee look like a radical extremist to Montana voters. Tester would win.
Only Fagg can beat Tester because most Republican voters and all Democrat voters want the Compact. Most voters will believe Tester’s argument and not vote for a candidate who opposes the Compact.
Tester has much more money than any Republican candidate. So Tester’s voice will dominate in any public debate over the Compact. No Republican candidate can win that debate against Tester. The only way for a Republican to win is to avoid that debate. Fagg avoids that debate because he properly supports the Compact.
Here’s my election prediction.
Based on voter demographics and the critical issue of the Compact, I predict Montana Republicans will nominate Judge Russ Fagg and Fagg will go on to defeat incumbent Senator Tester.
If we used money as the predictor, we would predict Rosendale would win the primary and Tester would win the November election. We will know on June 6 whether demographics or money is the better predictor.
Here’s the basis of my prediction.
Henry Olsen‘s “The Four Faces of the Republican Party” helps us understand the Republican party. According to Olsen, Republicans fall into “four rough camps,” with approximate composition shown in parentheses:
Somewhat Conservatives (40%) are not vocal but always back the winner. They like cautious conservatives and don’t like radicals.
Moderates to Liberals (30%) prefer secular, less fiscally-concerned conservatives. They oppose overtly religious candidates. If their candidate is weak, they will back the Somewhat Conservatives candidate.
Very Conservative but Seculars (10%) like urbane, fiscally oriented men. When their candidate loses ground, they will back the Somewhat Conservatives candidate. (For fair disclosure, I fit best in this camp.)
Very Conservative Evangelicals (20%) prefer candidates “who are very open about their religious beliefs, place a high priority on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, and see the United States in decline because of its movement away from the faith and moral codes of its past.”
Some facts about Very Conservative Evangelicals
Very Conservative Evangelicals are the only group that does not regularly support the winning candidate when their candidate fails. They dominate the Tea Party. Their candidates cannot win a competitive nomination because 80 percent of Republicans are against overtly religious candidates.
They supported Ken Miller in his 2012 primary bid for governor because his “moral compass” image fit their addiction to Evangelical candidates. The primary votes for Miller plus the few votes for Bob Fanning show the Very Conservative Evangelical Republicans make up 20 percent of Montana’s Republican voters, as expected from Olsen’s analysis.
They supported Matt Rosendale in his doomed 2014 primary bid for US Congress because his “drone shooter” image fit their obsession with anti-government conspiracy theories. Rosendale picked up more than the Evangelical vote in 2014 because he did not sound overly Evangelical. But his association with Oath Keepers National Chaplain Chuck Baldwin and his “drone shooter” image turned off the three dominant “faces” of the Republican Party.
How do the candidates fit into the four faces?
Russ Fagg is the Somewhat Conservatives candidate. He will get most of the 40 percent in this group. This is enough to win the primary election.
Al Olszewski and Matt Rosendale are Very Conservative Evangelicals candidates. They will split the 20 percent of this voting block and collect up to a total of 30 percent of the primary vote.
Troy Downing has no history to indicate the face he fits into. However, his position on the Compact and the support he has gained from Compact opponents shows he is more closely aligned with the Very Conservative Evangelicals candidates, even if this is not his intention.
The Moderates to Liberals and Very Conservative but Seculars have no candidate. Most in these groups will support Fagg with some votes going to Downing.
In summary, Fagg will get 40 to 50 percent of the primary votes, Rosendale 20 to 30 percent, Olszewski 10 percent and Downing 20 percent.
How Fagg will beat Tester.
With the CSKT Compact contention out of the way, Fagg can compete on conservative values and his support of President Trump’s agenda. With a little help from Trump and Zinke, Fagg will get more votes than Tester.
In November, some 5 percent of the Very Conservative Evangelicals will vote Libertarian, to protest the fact that “their” candidate did not win, as they did in 2012 when they secured the election of Senator Tester. In 2018, however, there is a Green Party candidate who will drain off about 5 percent of the vote for Tester.
Republicans can win by defeating climate extremism.
President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was not only economically smart but also scientifically correct. Republicans can defeat Democratic candidates by showing their climate extremism is an illusion.
For example, my simple proof shows the climate alarmist case is based on false logic. The alarmists assume but cannot prove human carbon dioxide emissions have caused atmospheric carbon dioxide to increase from 280 ppm to the present 410 ppm. My model shows nature increased atmospheric carbon dioxide from 280 ppm to 392 ppm, and human emissions increase atmospheric carbon dioxide by only 18 ppm.
Therefore, human emissions are irrelevant to climate change and the Paris Agreement can do nothing to change this fact. All the climate alarmist claims about the damage caused by climate change, even if true, are caused by nature, not human emissions.
My proof and model are simpler than Al Gore’s model. We can teach it to high-school students and the public. The alarmists raise money by the millions to promote their climate fiction. It is time for the Trump administration to spend money to promote the truth about climate. If conservatives teach this new insight, they may win enough elections in November to give Republicans solid control of Congress.