Montana GOP Voter Wake-up Call

by Dr. Ed Berry

Why talk about the Montana Republican Party?

Because Montana’s low population makes its politics easier to understand. In Montana, it’s like the political players run around half naked so everyone can see them.

Montana is one US congressional district. We who play the political game in Montana pretty much all know each other. Most of us view our political competitors as opponents rather than as enemies.

Here’s my 300-word “Letter to the Editor” the local Daily Inter Lake published today.

If you don’t live in Montana, you may not know these players. But you may recognize the same game in your state. Here I discuss the very important split in the Republican Party and what it means in Montana.


The three local Republican races, Tim Harmon v. Pam Holmquist, Don “K” v. Keith Regier, and Jean Barragan v. Derek Skees, represent the split in the Republican Party.

Pam Holmquist, Keith Regier, and Derek Skees are the Tea Party candidates who represent about 20 percent of Montana Republican voters.

Tim Harmon, Don “K”, and Jean Barragan represent the other 80 percent of Republican voters.

In 2015, Tea Party representatives mostly opposed the Water Compact, the Infrastructure bill, and Ryan Zinke for Congress.

Holmquist, Regier, and Skees opposed the bipartisan Water Compact. They did not understand the key question of the Compact, which was: “Will Montana benefit more with or without the Compact?”

Commissioner Pam Holmquist signed a letter that opposed the Water Compact. The letter shows she did not understand the legal issues of tribal water rights. The governor’s legal counsel wrote a devastating and correct rebuttal to the Commissioners’ letter.

Rep. Regier led the Compact opposition. Regier did not reply to attorney Helen Thigpen’s in-depth reply to his written questions about the Compact. He opposed the compact because he could not edit the Compact, he did not “have enough time” to read the Compact, he thinks Republicans should always vote opposite to Democrats, and he did not understand the Compact was a bipartisan bill.

Regier killed the Infrastructure bill because he thinks the state should pay with cash rather than with bonds. By contrast, Don “K”, who understands business and finances, would have considered using bonds to fund Infrastructure.

Regier and Skees did not support Ryan Zinke for Congress in the final 2014 election.

In 2014, Republican voters did not understand which candidates were Tea Party candidates. As a result, Tea Party legislators had almost enough votes to kill the Water Compact. That should be a wake-up call to Republican voters.


Read my Legislature recommendations for the Montana Primary Election here.