by Dr. Ed Berry (also published in Daily Inter Lake, October 4, 2015)
Former Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher and Montana House Majority Leader Keith Regier have ignited a battle over conservative ideology. ( See their opinion letters in the Daily Inter Lake, September 9 and 13, respectively, also republished for your convenience below.)
Their battle is part of the ideological war for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. The outcome of this war will affect your future. Tammi is correct. I will tell you why.
First, you must understand the four faces in the Republican Party.
The Very Conservative Evangelicals (VCEs) are 20 percent of the Republican Party. Ten percent of all voters. They dominate and are Montana’s Tea Party. VCEs are the only face that does not regularly support the Republican nominee.
US Senator Tester, Governor Bullock, and other Democrats owe their elections to VCEs who voted Libertarian rather than Republican. It does not matter to VCEs that their Libertarian votes empowered Tester to push Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, and the Iran deal on America.
VCEs did not support Ryan Zinke for Congress after Republican voters nominated him.
The other three Republican faces make up the 80 percent. They regularly support the Republican nominees. They elected Ryan Zinke to Congress.
The problem is VCEs elected 80 percent of Montana’s 2015 House. VCEs control half of Montana’s Republican Central Committees. The Flathead Central Committee is one. Sugar daddies plow money through these central committees to help elect more VCEs.
Now VCEs want to wag the Republican dog. VCEs nominee for MTGOP Chairman, Dan Happel, made this very clear.
They want to isolate Republicans who are not like them. They are like a church. They don’t accept “sinners.” Like Republicans who properly vote the same as Democrats on non-partisan bills.
VCEs think Republicans should always vote opposite of the Democrats. They think if Democrats want paved highways, then, by golly, all Republicans should vote for gravel highways.
Keith claims this is about “honesty in representing the ideology of the party platform as defined by the group at large.”
VCEs have their TAB scores and Legistats scores. They think their near 100 percent on these scores makes them better Republicans than those with lower scores. In fact, these scores only prove their hypothesis about who is a good Republican is wrong.
VCEs think because they elected 80 percent of the 2015 Montana House that all Republicans should always vote with the VCEs. They think the majority implies truth. It does not.
The CSKT Water Compact is part of an ideological war. The Compact was a non-partisan bill. But the VCEs made it partisan.
VCEs opposed the Compact before they reviewed it. In fact, they never reviewed it. They believe the Compact is a federal government, Agenda 21 conspiracy to steal their water and land. They also believe “chemtrails” are a government conspiracy to poison them. With their irrational minds already made up, they invented arguments to oppose the Compact.
To understand the Compact, I spent some 200 hours to review it. I read the arguments on both sides. Only then did I understand that Montana needs the Compact. Opponents made no valid arguments. Proponents rebutted all opponents’ claims. No opponent ever countered a proponent rebuttal. When you don’t counter a rebuttal it means you agree with the rebuttal.
No Compact opponent addressed the Compact’s key question: Will Montana be better served with or without the Compact?
I testified in support of the Compact. I said, “The Compact is an organized solution to a complex problem.” The VCE’s did not understand the Compact is a solution to a problem.
The problem is VCEs almost stopped the Compact.
Now, with the Compact passed, VCEs can stop the Compact if their claims are valid. But so far, they have lost every legal case they have filed.
Democrats and Republicans will always have partisan ideological differences. We can live with that. We cannot live with the destruction VCEs will cause if they remain the majority of Montana’s Republican legislature.
We must find worthy opponents to VCEs legislators and central committees. Then we must remove VCEs from representing Montana in the next election, just like they want to remove us.
By their votes we shall know them.
Moderates being run out of GOP?
by Tammi Fisher, Daily Inter Lake, September 9th
It appears the Montana Republican Party has been hijacked. I am deeply disturbed that Matt Rosendale and Keith Regier have the audacity to propose a “cleansing” of the Montana Republican Party of those members and elected officials deemed too “moderate” to be Republican.
What these two men fail to recognize is that by ridding the Republican Party of “moderates” (i.e., the non-extremists) they are seeking to rid the party of Montanans. Anyone who has lived in this great state for longer than 15 minutes knows that Montanans are typically center-right in their political persuasion. Hence, the inordinately high number of NRA members per capita, fiscal conservatives and enlisted Montanans in the armed forces.
Of course, Mr. Rosendale may not understand the idiocy of his proposal to rid the party of Montanans because he’s only lived here for 14 minutes. Let us not forget Mr. Rosendale was the losing candidate that refused to support the winning candidate — Ryan Zinke — in the congressional race. That Mr. Rosendale concluded a Montana-born and -raised, 20-year Navy SEAL who devoted his professional life in service of his state and country was not worthy of Mr. Rosendale’s support as a candidate speaks volumes of Mr. Rosendale’s connection (or lack thereof) with Montana’s values and the Montana Republican Party’s values.
Rosendale and Regier are surreptitiously pervading the Montana Republican Party with their ludicrous beliefs. If these two are now the self-proclaimed spokesmen for the Montana Republican Party and are allowed to spread their lunacy within our ranks denigrating and excluding true, proven Montana leaders like Congressman Ryan Zinke and Rep. Frank Garner — men who serve with honor, integrity and who do if for the love of their community and home state — then we will suffer the fate of a party without a people… a party without Montana. —Tammi Fisher, Kalispell
House majority leader defends role in Republican Party
by Keith Regier, Daily Inter Lake, September 13th
In her letter to the editor on Sept. 9 (“Moderates being run out of GOP?”), Tammi Fisher made some erroneous and unsubstantiated comments about Sen. Matt Rosendale and me.
She said that we are the “self-proclaimed spokesmen for the Montana Republican Party” and that we propose a “cleansing” of the moderate Republicans. Sen. Rosendale is the Senate majority leader, and I am the House majority leader. We do speak for our respective caucuses, but we have a state Republican Party leader who is the spokesman for the party.
Ms. Fisher does not inform us of the source for her accusations. I will have to infer that it is a result of the current legal action regarding closed and open primary elections. Sen. Rosendale and I have both been deposed by the state attorney general’s office regarding our experience as majority leaders in the Legislature. Party loyalty by legislators was questioned in that deposition.
Ms. Fisher said that we propose to cleanse the party of moderates. What is a moderate? Ms. Fisher said they are non-extremists. Non-extremist will be defined differently depending upon one’s point of view. There are frequent references to moderate Republicans or moderate Democrats in the news. In my experience, a moderate is someone that will frequently break from the main group.
What does it mean to be a Democrat or a Republican? It should be like-mindedness around a party platform, not around Matt Rosendale, Keith Regier or any other individual. No part of this debate is “self-proclaimed” or about “cleansing.” It is about a candidate/legislator’s honesty in representing the ideology of the party platform as defined by the group at large.
Legistats is an online scorecard designed to research a Republican legislator’s adherence to consistency with Republicans as a group. A senator or representative’s vote on each bill is rated according to how all Republican legislators voted on that bill. If one is frequently voting unlike a majority of the caucus (Republicans), it is reflected in a lower letter grade. A Republican with a grade of D or F voted frequently with Democrats.
It is rare to non-existent that a candidate will campaign as a moderate. When someone campaigns as a Democrat or Republican they should be honest with the voters and legislate the way they campaigned.
Sen. Rosendale and I are not setting the platform for the Republican Party. We simply agree with it. We cannot cleanse any party of moderates. That will be up to the voters of this great state. —Keith Regier, Kalispell Republican, House District 4