In a last-ditch effort to salvage his campaign after being opposed by the local Republican Party, all neighboring Republican legislators, and Republican House leadership, Joel Krautter sent a hail-Mary mass mailer to his constituents alleging that his opponent, Brandon Ler, is “hostile to gun owners and sportsmen’s rights.”
The mailer, sent to Richland County voters, extrapolates a question-mark on the National Rifle Association (NRA) scorecard – which is common among those challenging incumbents when they don’t have a voting record yet – to imply that Ler is opposed to the Second Amendment (see below).
However, it is Krautter who, standing awkwardly in the photo with a shotgun, has explaining to do to local gun owners. The local organization, Conservatives United for Richland County, noted that Krautter has refused in Town Hall forums to take a side on proposed magazine capacity limits or AR-15 bans, such as his Girard Hall meet-and-greet in 2018. Likewise, at a Republican Central Committee meeting in 2019, Krautter vocally supported so-called “Red Flag” laws that allow the confiscation of firearms without due process.
Krautter did not mention in the mailing that Ler received the same score as him from the Montana Shooting Sports Association, which was from answers on a survey that Ler – unlike the NRA – he was able to fill out. MSSA is considered by many Montanans to be a superior gun rights organization than the NRA, which has compromised on important issues like Red Flag laws in recent years.
Meanwhile, Krautter did not attend a Town Hall hosted by the Richland County Republican Party on January 20 to support declaring Richland County a “sanctuary” for the Second Amendment and, unlike Ler, has shown no support for the movement. Ler has indeed signed the petition for Second Amendment liberties in Richland County, and Joel Krautter has not.
Ironically, it was Krautter who called for a “clean campaign” and signed the Code of Clean Campaign Practices with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices and lauded his commitment to clean campaigning as his supposed moral high ground in the local Round Up newspaper.
By besmirching the character and intentionally misleading the public about Ler’s commitment and advocacy for gun rights – when Krautter’s advocacy is altogether absent – he has ceded any and all claims to “clean campaigning.”