Monforton, who served the Montana House from 2015-2017, had critical words for Speaker Wylie Galt. He also had words for conservatives who were too busy chasing conspiracy theories than to commandeer political power.
[Matthew Manforton] The 2021 Legislative Session of the Montana Legislature is commencing, as the past three have, with a Legislative Cession of power by conservatives. Indeed, the capitulating is commencing even earlier than usual. Speaker Greg Hertz managed to avoid emasculation for at least a few hours in January 2019 on the first day of the session before caving into the RINOs (see bit.ly/2L0X1sd). This time around, newly elected Speaker Wylie Galt surrendered to uber RINO Llew Jones within days of the GOP’s caucus elections on November 18, and did so despite defeating conservative Matt Regier by a mere one vote.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. And sometimes it’s worth a 90-day legislative session. The attached photo was taken by Eric Dietrich of the Montana Free Press on same day as the caucus elections on November 18. (see bit.ly/39TSqT2). It shows newly elected Rep. Gregory Frazier discussing committee assignments with Jones rather than Supposed Speaker Galt. The Legislature won’t officially convene for another month and yet even the freshmen have already figured out who really runs the House.
Jones’ exploitation of power began, as always, with bestowing benefits upon himself. He will chair the House Appropriations, the most powerful committee in the House – the one responsible for deciding whom to dish out the state’s loot.
Even more problematic is Jones’ packing of the State Administration Committee with RINOs. That committee (commonly referred to as “State Admin”) has 19 members. State Admin will be chaired by Wendy McKamey, who scored an “F” on Legistats last year, along with three other F-rated Republicans. That includes Geraldine Custer, who has had the most liberal Legistats score of any House Republican since 2015.
These 4 F-rated Republicans, along with State Admin’s 7 Democrats, will wrench the remaining Republicans into 11-vote hammerlocks on bill after bill. State Admin traditionally handles election and campaign-finance bills. So the reforms that conservatives were trumpeting a few weeks ago, such as voter ID, elimination of same-day registration and voting, closed primaries, elimination of COPP, and elimination of campaign contribution limits – are dead on arrival.
De Facto Speaker Jones will also have unfettered discretion to refer any other conservative bill to State Admin. Traditionally, the House Judiciary Committee has served as the “Kill Committee” for the House, i.e., the place where GOP speakers send liberal bills to die. State Admin now fills that role – except it will be a Reverse Kill Committee, i.e., one that kills any conservative bill Jones doesn’t want on the House floor.
It gets worse. The 11-member Dem-RINO majority not only makes State Admin a Kill Committee for conservative bills but also an express lane for RINO bills. Nothing prevents Jones from redirecting Medicaid Expansion, for example, to State Admin so as to ensure the bill’s safe passage to the floor.
Even with all of this bad news, conservatives can still salvage the 2021 session if a courageous conservative can be found in the House GOP caucus. A rebellion is brewing amongst Montana conservatives, some of whom are circulating a petition to reconvene the GOP House Caucus and give Galt the boot (see here). Herding all 67 House Republicans from across Montana back to Helena before Christmas for a caucus do-over isn’t practical and probably isn’t legal, either, now that the December 1 deadline for such caucuses has expired.
But the hundreds of signatures the petition have already garnered is a sign Galt’s (or, more precisely, Jones’) power would be in serious jeopardy if someone with balls were to use the House’s rules to challenge them on the House floor next month.
As of now, Galt is merely the Speaker-elect. Under House Rule 10-10(2), the Speaker takes office only after receiving a majority vote on January 4, 2021, the first day of the session. This vote has previously been just a pro forma ratification in which GOP House members vote unanimously for the person selected by the majority of the caucus during November caucus meeting. A courageous conservative who throws his (or her) hat in the ring to challenge Galt could change that, particularly if grass-roots conservatives begin whipping votes between now and January 4. Such a challenger would have several advantages Matt Regier didn’t have last month.
First, Galt would not be able to claim that he’ll advance a conservative agenda. His immediate surrender to Jones last month has given the entire 67-member GOP caucus a preview of coming attractions. House Republicans who vote for him again on January 4 will own the RINO trainwreck that follows.
Second, the floor vote on January 4 will be on the record, unlike November’s shady, secret caucus vote. House Republicans who vote for Galt again in January will do so publicly. That will impose accountability upon every member who ratifies the RINO takeover of the House.
One silver lining from Galt’s narrow victory over Regier in November is that Regier is now free to rejoin the guerrilla war against RINOs he and other conservatives such as Ed Butcher and Annie Bukacek successfully waged earlier this year. That included the spectacular takedown of freshman RINO Joel Krautter – among many others (see an example, here). Republicans who previously cut deals with Galt (and Jones) under the cover of November’s secret vote will risk getting Krauttered in their next primary if they do so again on January 4.
Whether any of this blossoms into a real threat to Galt and Jones will also depend upon Montana conservatives walking away from shiny objects, such as post-election campaigning for a second Trump term. I don’t know how recent parades by conservatives in Yellowstone County and Gallatin County, Montana are supposed to impact election lawsuits in Fulton County, Georgia and Wayne County, Michigan. And I don’t know who all showed up – apparently a large number of conservative Montanans if press reports are accurate.
But I know who didn’t show up. Llew and his crew weren’t marching in StopTheSteal parades because they were busy schooling Montana conservatives on what a real steal looks like. They absorbed devastating losses in the June primary but are nothing if not indefatigable. They rolled up their sleeves after Election Day and did what successful, ruthless RINOs always do: work the phones, cut deals, groom the freshmen, sow lies about conservatives, etc. The RINOs weren’t sharing Facebook fantasies about Krackens, watching videos explaining how the new coronavirus vaccine is the culmination of Bill Gates’ Plandemic Plan to cull 95% of the world’s population, or decoding the latest Q-drops from QAnon. Llew and his crew don’t waste time with such crap because they’re serious about seizing power and serious about actually using it – and we’re not. And we haven’t been for a very long time.
From 1995 to 2005, under Marc Racicot and, later, Judy Martz, Montana Republicans controlled the Governor’s Mansion and both houses of the Legislature. But that period became a decade of expansive growth of state government, a decade of abortions financed with state tax dollars, a decade of defeated tax cut bills, a decade of low growth – a decade of lost opportunities that died during Lost Sessions of the Legislature. We’re on the brink of another Lost Session in which we will have overwhelming GOP numbers in the Legislature and a GOP governor and nothing to show for it in the end. Greg Gianforte’s willingness to sign conservative bills means nothing if they don’t reach his desk. And that won’t happen unless conservatives control the House. And that won’t happen if Wylie Galt and Llew Jones remain in power after January 4.
[Publisher’s Note: This article was first published to Matthew Monforton’s Facebook page here]