Will Montana’s new House Speaker negotiate with terrorists? Will Greg Gianforte appoint Llew Jones to his administration? Will Llew Jones again thwart conservatives with his RINO caucus? Did Elsie Arntzen appoint a RINO to her staff?
Rumors from the Montana capitol are flying, just as Republicans descended upon Helena for their orientations and just as Democrats are already blaming them for spreading the Wuhan Flu with catastrophizing hysteria. What are the rumors and are they true?
RUMOR 1: Wylie Galt has gone over to the Dark Side.
Running for Montana Speaker of the House was Wylie Galt and Matt Regier. Both Galt and Regier are A-rated in party loyalty with Legistats. Galt, in fact, has a slightly higher score in Legistats than Regier (but only by one point). However, it has been suggested by many that Galt made a devil’s bargain with Llew Jones, who is still reeling from an epic defeat to his caucus of fake Republicans in the primary. As the rumor goes, Jones feared Regier’s possible speakership and threw his support behind Galt, who he believed would be kinder and gentler to the tail-tucked Solutions Caucus exiles.
Montana Daily Gazette has been able to link Llew Jones to the rumor that Galt would move past grievances aside and Regier would treat Jones and his liberal foot soldiers vindictively. Most humorous was the rumor that Regier would seat Jones in the middle of the Democrats (which, if true, would have been hilarious); however, we have found no support in reality for this to have been Regier’s plan. Winning by one vote, it does seem that Jones was successful in convincing his colleagues that Regier would have gone ‘scorched earth’ on Jones’ fake Republican contingent. However, we cannot substantiate the notion that Galt or Regier would have – in reality – treated Jones any differently. Neither can we substantiate the rumor that Galt in any way made a bargain with Jones to ascend to the speakership.
RUMOR 2: Wylie Galt wants to ‘take it easy’ this session to allow Gianforte time to ‘settle in’
Conservative Republicans are apprehensive about Galt’s committment to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ in regards to passing controversial legislation. More than a half-dozen legislators reported to the Montana Daily Gazette that Galt suggested Republicans be less ambitious in making large changes or passing “wishlist legislation” so Gianforte can have a smooth couple of years.
This seems like a bad idea, considering Republicans are on the heels of a historic ‘Red Wave’ and have an incredible mandate to pass conservative legislation. Furthermore, no one knows what the future holds and whether or not Repubilcan gains will hold in 2022.
Although plenty of Republican legislators have shared this concern and repeated the claim that Galt wants to ‘take it easy’ this session, we have not heard the Speaker say this directly and time wil have to tell the truth of it.
RUMOR 3: Elsie Arntzen hired a RINO as her Chief of Staff
With Montana’s leftist Republicans running for cover after their primary defeats, the question for many is where they will eventually surface. Elsie Arntzen faced the toughest battle of statewide races for Superintendent of Public Instruction and won with the smallest margin (but still won by 10%). Arntzen was a favorite whipping-boy (or girl) for the Democrat Party’s chief junk-blog, the Montana Post. And without question, Arntzen has taken more insult and injury from Governor Bullock’s statewide monarchy than anyone currently in statewide office. It is concerning to many, then, that she would appoint Sarah Swanson as her Chief of Staff.
Swanson is rumored to be a protege of Solutions Caucus retired godfather, Walt McNutt (RINO-Sidney) and her conservative bonafides are regularly questioned among party insiders.
TRUTH? It Depends…
Yes, Elsie Arntzen did appoint Sarah Swanson to her administration (the Montana Daily Gazette reached out to Swanson who confirmed it). Swanson spoke off the record to the Gazette, however, and we are unable to quote her words. Suffice it to say, however, that Swanson denies the rumor that her conservatism is questionable. She also (admirably) focused on the importance of Arntzen’s role as Superintendent and upon her commitment to do a good job for Arntzen. So whether or not this rumor is true depends upon whether or not Sarah Swanson is a RINO or if, perhaps, she’s been misjudged by her associations. Time will tell, but Arntzen should have seen ahead of time that the news of this would be disconcerting to many.
RUMOR 4: Greg Gianforte will appoint Llew Jones as his budget director
If true, this would be an absolute nightmare for the Republican Party’s conservatives who have fought tooth and nail to strip Jones of his ability to serve the Democratic Party as a Manchurian candidate. No one has done more to help the Democratic Party in Montana than Llew Jones who has steadily leveraged a minority of fake Republicans as a leftwing voting block to thwart Montana conservatives.
TRUTH: It’s False
The Montana Daily Gazette has actually traced down the source for this rumor. The notion started as a joke, as some political influencers lobbied (jokingly) to get Gianforte to appoint Jones as budget director, only to then fire him upon taking office. While funny, it appears that the joke became a legitimate concern in the minds of many. It’s unlikely.
RUMOR 5: Republicans are trying to end the Public Service Commission
It has been rumored that Senator Doug Kary (R-Billings) will propose legislation to either make Public Service Commissioners be appointed by the Governor (as opposed to being elected) or in some way gut the PSC altogether. It’s also rumored that the reason for this is the rather public skirmishes between Randy Pinocci and Roger Koopman (the latter seems to be the instigator, at least so far as his willing accomplices in Montana’s liberal press is concerned).
TRUTH: It’s accurate; but it won’t work
Kary confirmed to the Montana Daily Gazette that he is indeed trying to end the election of the PSC. However, this seems like a profoundly bad idea awaiting the day that Montana no longer has a Republican governor. The Gazette also spoke to several in House leadership who have stated that Kary’s bill will be “dead on arrival” and won’t make it out of committee. While they indicate that the PSC has received some problematic press, they do not see a viable alternative to our current system.
RUMOR 6: Llew Jones will stop conservative progress and has the numbers to do it
The source for this rumor is clear; it is Llew Jones. Jones has been telling legislators that he has a caucus of more than 20 legislators who will side with him against Republican conservatives (mostly when trying to get them to join his crew).
TRUTH: It is false
By our estimates, it appears that Jones might lead upwards of 16 votes (which represents the number of RINOS that need to be primaried and ousted in 2022). He does not have the numbers possible on most bills to present significant challenges to the party’s super-majority. This appears to be the case of Llew Jones blowing hot air. While Jones might still be a factor on close bills, the number of bills that will be close should be minimal.