1. Koopman here. You mentioned my race, so I thought I should "weigh in" just a bit

    It's important to recongize the different between those who tried (unsuccessfully) to "assasinate" me, and those who chose (whether wisely or unwisely) to offer principled alternatives on the Libertarian ticket. In the first case, these were people within my own Republican Party, who publicly endorsed a Democrat because they HATE uncompromising, constitutional conservatives and the freedom philosophy we represent. They lterally hate us. Consequently, they are happy to elect one of the most ruthless, despicable left-wingers this state has ever produced (John Vincent) rather than see Roger Koopman spread his "dangerous" ideas of liberty and less government. Certainly, they are traitors to their party, yet they know they will be welcomed back in with open arms and have no price to pay. In the case of Rep. Jesse O'Hara, whose vicous attacks on me were 100% unconscionable lies, he was actually rewarded by the GOP leadership with a committee chairmanship. Meanwhile, he continues to call me (now a PSC commissioner) "Kooky Koopman" everywhere he goes. Such is life in the Montana Republican Party…

    In the case of Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates (recognizing, of course, that these parties seldom attempt to vet or screen their candidates, and in any case, have no real control over who files,) most of these folks are honest patriots and are men and women of good conscience. For the most part, they are out to promote the same principles of freedom that the rest of us hold to, which they believe the Republican Party has largely abandoned. All of the ones I have spoken to are of that mindset. They do not view themselves as "assassinating" anybody, but rather, as promoting the "cause" in the way they believe is best. The major parties' candidates are largely irrelevant to them.

    Now it is an entirely separate question as to whether what they do is politically wise, and in whether in the short or long term, helps or hinders the cause of freedom. The end must alays be the best possible outcome for freedom. The end must never be "party." The Republican Party or the Libertarian Party. To the entent that some libertarians promote party first, and give little pause to what the political fall out may be, they are committing the same sin that they accuse Repubicans of — i.e., putting party first. This is where I often find my greatest argument with Libertarian Party activists. In pushing their "party", they often fail to prudently assess the conbsequences.

    Reasonable people will disagree of when a third party candidate should enter a given race. Even while greatly respecting the candidate 9and their right to file), I have in a number of cases attempted to pursued CP and LP people not to file in certain races (as with the CP lady who insisted on filing for Secretary of State against Brad Johnson 4 years ago, ushering in far-left Linda McCullogh.) In this last election cycle, quite frankly, there was no way that Denny Rehberg wasn't going to get third party opposition. Yes, Tester is far, far worse, and on many key issues (including Supreme Court nominees, socialized medicine repeal, etc.) Denny would be with us. But Rehberg's congressional voting record was SO bad that he essentially cooked his own goose. If Cox hadn't filed, someone else would have. We can blame his defeat on the libertartians if we want, but sadly, Denny did it to himself.

    There are other races where I absolutely believe the libertarians should have "counted the costs," applied true wisdom and stayed out. Why, for example, run someone (David Kaiser)against Steve Daines in the U.S. House race? Fortunately, it didn't make a difference. But that made no sense at all.

    And why field candidates who have no intention of running serious or credible campaigns? In the governor's race, for example, someone in the LP should have (if possible) convinced Vandevender not to file. This is purely my own opinion, of course. But I know Rick Hill pretty well, and while we will honestly disagree on some issues, Rick would have been an enormous improvement over the guy we have in there now. Just watch when Bullock starts vetoing every decent Republican bill that comes down the pike — all of which Hill would have gladly signed into law. I would remind the Hill-bashers that it was Rick who insisted (unsuccessfully) that Ron Paul delegates be included in the Montana delegation to the national convention. And it was Rick Hill who was finally able to push the state party (Deshamps) into issuing a statement agsint the 8 Republicans who endorsed Democrat Vincent over me. He didn't have to do that. Yes, Rick could have won. And what a difference that would have made.

    The friendly counsel I would give to disguntled Republicans, former Republicans and libertairians is that the REAL battle ground for changing things is in the primaries, not the general elections. Once the GOP has nominated someone you don't like, it's too late to change the course of events. Let's remember that all parties are just vehicles — for good or evil. They are not ends in themselves. Instead of cursing the darkness when the general election comes (because the Republicans once again nominated a Big Government RINO,) get involved in recruiting and promoting great candidates during the primary season. That's where the action is. If you just sit back, get mad, and then run someone like Vandvender in the general as a "protest" — or just because "you can," you aren't forwarding the cause of freedom. In most cases, you are hurting it — and unwittingly helping those who are daily digging the grave of our precious republic.

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