Montana Conservatives Trying to ‘Drain the Swamp’ of ‘RINO’ Candidates

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Around Montana, conservative Republicans are focused upon changing the leftward trajectory of the state legislature, which in recent years has regularly seen Republicans yield their majority power to Democrats by caucusing in what is known as the “Solution’s Caucus.” This caucus – led by Rep. Llew Jones (R-Conrad) is comprised of fairly liberal Republicans whose swing-vote has handed a number of crushing defeats in favor of the Democratic, rather than Republican, agenda.

Many Republicans want to put a stop to that this primary season.

The Dawson County Central Committee is hosting an event entitled Drain the Swamp Montana, which will be held this Monday, March 9, at the VFW Hall in Glendive. Speaking will be Ed Butcher of Legistats. Butcher’s agenda, and that of so many more conservatives around the state, is to explain to voters why Democrat-caucusing Republicans, and not Democrats themselves, are why so many bills they perceive to be problematic pass through the house and senate.

Legistats has seen increased use in the rise of Llew Jones (R-Conrad), who founded the so-called “Solutions Caucus” that pushed through taxpayer-funded abortions and ‘gender reassignment’ surgeries through Medicaid Expansion.

The question for voters is how they are to know conservative Republicans from liberal Republicans who could just as easily register as Democrats, but who run in districts ideologically opposed to the Democratic platform. The answer for many is the Legistats system that Butcher and his son, Trevis, designed.

The resource gives scores for party loyalty based upon votes cast by legislators on partisan bills. Bills that have widespread bipartisan support, like procedural votes or non-controversial legislation with little disagreement between the parties, are not factored into the scoring. An ingenious computer algorithm, created by Trevis, hands out automatic scores based upon the legislator’s voting record.

In addition to the upcoming Glendive event, other organizations are focusing on uncontested “RINO” (which stands for “Republicans in name only”) races for the state legislature.

One organization has named the following candidates as RINO Republicans who need to be ousted:

Frank Garner (Kalispel), Denley Loge (St. Regis), Ross Fitzgerald (Choteau), Llew Jones (Shelby), Wendy McKamey (Great Falls), Kenneth Holmlund (Miles City), Julie Dooling (Townsend), Tom Welch (Dillon), David Bedey (Hamilton), Sharon Greef (Florence), Mike Hopkins (Missoula), Steve Fitzpatrick (Great Falls), Tom Richmond (Billings), Jeffrey Welborn (Dillon), Terry Gauthier (Helena), and Daniel Saloman (Missoula).

In the meantime, Republicans are reminded that they have until the end of the working day on Monday to file for office.


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  1. Why wasn’t Nancy Ballance on the RINO list of those to be ousted along with Dave Bedey and Sharon Greef. She led the Ravalli County area members of the Solutions Caucus.


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