by Ed Berry
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced his candidacy for governor or Montana. Fox is termed out as AG and is by far the best Republican candidate to win Montana governor in 2020. Fox won his AG election in 2016 by pulling more statewide votes that Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump, and Governor Bullock by a wide margin. Here’s the results of Montana’s 2016 statewide votes.
But the Montana GOP has a possible big problem. Nathan Kosted writes in the Montana Post:
Here’s a hot take that’s been circulating, Greg Gianforte is running for Governor, AGAIN, in 2020. I think he will easily be the Republican nominee with $315 Million dollars to play with, in the race the other candidates will have a hard time keeping up. I have seen nothing from his past campaigns to show me that he is not going to buy this primary.
Al Olszewski will be running for Auditor. He has been positioning himself to fill Rosendale’s shoes when Rosendale runs for Congress in 2020.
Derek Skees will run for Secretary of State. Skees has been a fan of making it hard to vote, he has made this very clear and his failed auditor race in 2012 shows he has ambitions for higher office.
Republicans hold all statewide offices except for two. Gianforte lost to Governor Bullock in 2016 and Rosendale lost to US Senator Tester in 2018.
Will Republicans play musical chairs with their statewide offices?
I have no confirmation that Gianforte is truly planning to abandon his seat in Congress to run for governor, but if he is so planning, he would harm the MT GOP and betray those who voted for him. He is a good Congressman and the only Republican who has a jet plane to be home in Montana during weekends and congress vacations.
If Gianforte runs for governor, he will not only lose his second race for governor but he will also let the Democrats win his seat in Congress which would be a disaster for Montana Republicans. The votes he received for governor in 2016 are way behind Bullock and way, way behind Fox. Montana does not want Gianforte as governor. The danger to the MT GOP is Gianforte’s money may ace out Fox in the primary but will not help him win the final election for governor.
Corey Stapleton has done an excellent job as Secretary of State. He can easily win a second term as Secretary of State, but he can’t win the governor primary. However, he can take enough votes from Fox to let Gianforte win the primary. Corey should immediately resign his candidacy for governor before he becomes responsible for the MT GOP loss of the races for Governor and Secretary of State.
Who’s going to run for Gianforte’s seat in Congress? If Kosted is correct, it will be “US Senate loser” and “drone shooter” Matt Rosendale who is now Auditor. According to a post-election poll by Montana State University political scientists, “a majority of independent voters” and “seven percent of Republican voters” crossed party lines to vote for Tester over Rosendale in 2018. The same thing will happen if he runs for Congress.
Donald Trump and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not pull Rosendale across the US Senate finish line in 2018. And none of those forces will be there to pull him across the Congress finish line in 2020. The Democrats can easily nominate a candidate who will take Rosendale to the cleaners. He is way too far right to win the necessary Republican moderate vote.
Who is going to take Rosendale’s Auditor seat? Al Olszewski is a good candidate and a likely winner.
Can Derek Skees win a race for Secretary of State? Possible but risky. But this should not be an option because Stapleton should keep his Secretary of State seat.
If the MT GOP plays musical chairs in 2020, they will make the MT GOP look like a political version of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”
If the MT GOP incumbents run as incumbents, they will hold those seats plus win governor. But if they play musical chairs they will lose all the statewide seats they now hold except for attorney general and auditor.
Personally, I support Tim Fox for governor.