Joel Krautter (HD35-Richland County) has been boycotting the Republican Party for more than a year. Although the candidate is running for re-election on the Republican ticket, he has refused to attend Republican events. Krautter stepped down from his position as a precinct chair in the local Republican Central Committee, stopped attending the committee’s monthly meetings, and even refused to attend the annual Lincoln-Reagan Day event.
And most recently, the ‘Republican’ candidate refused to attend a town hall forum hosted by the Richland County Republican Central Committee.
After being invited to attend the event by Tanya Rost, the chairwoman of the Richland County Republican Central Committee (RCRCC), Krautter said he had already committed to doing a forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. However, at the time of Krautter’s response, the Chamber of Commerce had not yet set a date for the event and there was no scheduling conflict. Later, the Chamber of Commerce forum was scheduled for an altogether different week. Nonetheless, Krautter refused to attend the Republican event.
After Krautter declined the invitation, the RCRCC invited legislators and candidates from neighboring counties as well as Attorney General candidate, Austin Knudsen. Other attendees included Rhonda Knudsen (a representative from Culbertson), Alan Doane (a representative from Glendive who is term limiting-out), Jerry Schillinger (a representative from Circle), Bob Phalen (a candidate from Glendive), Steve Hinebauch (a senator from Glendive whose district extends into both Dawson and Richland Counties), and Brandon Ler (Krautter’s opponent in Richland County). Also attending the event was Loren Young, a candidate and incumbent commissioner in Richland County and moderating the event was Duane Mitchell, another Richland County commissioner.
All the candidates present showed wide support for Ler and his candidacy, except for the Richland County commissioners (one was moderating and the other did not speak at the event except for providing an introduction). Likewise, all present except the commissioners expressed their misgivings about Joel Krautter, who caucuses regularly with Democrats and the leftist Republican cross-over contingent known as the Solutions Caucus.
Hinebauch summed up the group’s feelings about Krautter, saying, “Yes, I’ve served with Representative Krautter and have always been cordial with Joel and listened to his concerns. But the reason I’m supporting Brandon is because Joel is a liberal.”
Should Krautter win re-election it might be awkward in the legislature, considering Eastern Montana’s delegation stands so uniformly opposed to him.
You can watch the forum below.