Rep. Joel Krautter (Sidney) founded the college Democrats (see below) at Liberty University and hosted victory parties for Barack Obama before moving to his new Eastern Montana town and settling down to run, inexplicably, as a Republican. After one term in the Montana House of Representatives, Republican leadership and his neighboring legislators are warning the public that the incumbent is not a conservative and, if he were honest, would not be running on the Republican ticket.
Few have received the full-out condemnation of Montana conservatives like Representative Krautter. Caucusing with the Democrat-crossover contingent known as the Solutions Caucus, Krautter coalesces with the group led by Llew Jones that was first formed in a secret meeting with then-governor, Brian Schweitzer. Since 2007, this caucus has pushed through vast spending bills that have delivered what now-governor, Steve Bullock, famously called “everything [he] wanted.”
Krautter was lambasted by pro-life groups for voting for Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Renewal, which provides abortion funding at taxpayer expense. Although Richland County voters from Krautter’s precinct voted down the measure in 2018, Krautter voted for the Democrat bill anyway in 2019. Doctor’s for a Healthy Montana, led by Dr. Annie Bukacek of Kalispel (she also runs the Montana Pro-Life Coalition) placed a billboard near Sidney informing voters of Krautter’s pro-choice voting record. Krautter responded on his candidacy’s Facebook page, claiming that pro-lifers were “disgusting” and “extremists.”
Krautter, along with the Solutions Caucus Democrat swing-vote who supported the bill with him, have claimed the legislation didn’t provide for new abortion funding. In fact, the abortion funding was already present from a previous version of the legislation, and Krautter and his Democrat crossover compatriots voted for it anyway. The Montana Family Foundation went out of their way to provide a memo clarifying their score does not include consideration of the Medicaid Expansion Renewal vote but that Medicaid indeed does pay for abortions. Krautter has ignored the Montana Family Foundation’s memo and has continued to flaunt his score. Oddly enough, he claimed just this week that those who claim Medicaid pay for abortion are “extremists” which, by necessity, would have to include the Montana Family Foundation.
The wording of Krautter, in particular use of the term “extremist” in reference to Republicans and conservatives, mirrors closely the language of his liberal Montana mentor, Llew Jones, and the hate-blog entitled The Extremist Chronicles. That publication is being advertised at the expense of a disgraced former Montana legislator who received, like Krautter, an F-score in party loyalty.
Using an attack-line of radicalized Montana leftists against conservatives, Krautter continues to use this mantra of “extremism.” In fact, he sent a mailer to Richland County residents accusing his opponent, Brandon Ler, of having “extremist” friends.
Krautter was skewered earlier in the week by the Montana House Majority Leader, Brad Tschida, for lying about his voting record and supposed support for the Republican Party.
Tschida wrote, “For Rep. Krautter to claim in any fashion that he ‘worked with’ Republican leadership, of which I am a part, is a lie. Rep. Krautter ignored numerous attempts I offered to help him represent true conservative Republican ideals, the ideals of his constituents, choosing to vote in lockstep with Democrats nearly as often as any disingenuous ‘Republican’.”
Krautter is opposed by almost every legislator from neighboring districts to Richland County, by his own senator, Steve Hinebaugh (Glendive), and by House leadership. He is opposed by pro-life groups, pro-gun groups, and is opposed by the impartial party loyalty ranking site, Legistats.
Krautter’s opponent, Brandon Ler, posed with a copy of Krautter’s “extremist” mailer with a caption of his own.
Ler stated on his Facebook page, “If you call being a God-fearing, Montana lovin’, truly Conservative, small business owner “extreme”, then I’ll take it. Truth, truth and more truth…Our opponent put out a mass mailer, which we received at our house today, calling us out by name for having ‘extremist’ allies, spreading lies about our opponent’s voting record. Stay tuned for the truth from our camp.”
In reality, Krautter did not make enemies of conservatives around Montana because of Brandon Ler’s candidacy. Krautter earned these enemies long before the state knew who Brandon Ler was. He earned his list of enemies by his voting record, which is far more Democrat than it is Republican.
As Krautter continues to call pro-life groups, party leadership, and stalwart conservatives “extremists” it is clear that what the candidate means by the term is “conservative.” That’s who he despises, and by his definition, the majority of his constituents fit that label.