Do You Believe in Dr. Al? Don’t Panic Over Trump Endorsement for Zinke. Al is In it to Win It.

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There’s no doubt that Montanans love Donald Trump. It’s an odd love affair for a Manhattan billionaire who probably couldn’t find Montana on a map before 2016. Nonetheless, Trump proved himself to us as POTUS for four years and won his race in Montana against Joe Biden by 16.4% in 2020 (albeit, a 4-point drop from 2016).

In short, we love the former POTUS as POTUS, despite some of us not loving the man, per se. But there is zero doubt that POTUS Trump cares about rural Montana, even from his high-rise hotel in New York City, more than any president in recent ministry. This is why his recent endorsement of Ryan Zinke for Montana’s new second congressional seat stings.

Montanans have little antipathy for Trump. But in no uncertain terms, we are not universal fans of Ryan Zinke.

Serving briefly as the Interior Secretary (an apt position for a Montanan, no doubt), Zinke earned the ire of his colleagues in the Trump Administration. He tried to waste 139k installing new doors on his office to protect himself against criticism given him over a rare bird (fiscal responsibility anybody?) Dealing with animal rights dummies is just something we do; barricading our offices from them is something we don’t do.

Trump himself helped to give Zinke the boot from his administration after Trump’s own Department of Justice began to look into Zinke’s financial shenanigans. It wasn’t only Republicans who had a problem with Zinke’s leadership style, but Democrats as well. And although most Montanans don’t care what Washington Democrats think, there was some substance to their concerns. Chiefly, it became apparent that Zinke’s policies were for sale to the highest bidder, not something that is cool whether Democrat or Republican.

Trump acknowledged that Zinke had likely broken federal laws and was the one who asked him to step down from serving in his administration. Chiefly, Zinke was using his office in Washington to help his investments back in Whitefish, Montana, more of an indisputable reality than a baseless accusation.

In 2017, Zinke was accused of taking more than $117 thousand in unnecessary travel for the sheer egotism of helicopter rides when unnecessary. He had no defense. Trump’s own Interior Department Inspector General agreed that the reports of Zinke’s financial waste had merit.

While no reasonable American should use service in the military as a downside in an election battle, many of Zinke’s SEAL companions have spoken out against his Op-Sec errors who have put their lives at risk. Some feel he has padded his resume’, with Retired Major General Michael S. Repass, who was Zinke’s superior in Iraq, telling the New York Times that Zinke’s claims of SEAL service claims “might be a stretch.” MDG is aware of several Montana SEALS who plan to challenge Zinke’s service record. MDG reached out to Al Olszewski with information that Montana SEALS are planning to campaign against Zinke, but Olszewski was unaware of those efforts and stated emphatically that veterans should receive the utmost respect and has nothing to do with their own decision to challenge Zinke’s military service. (Olszewski is also a military veteran with an honorable service record, but has chosen not to make it a campaign issue).

While Democrats had a long list of complaints against Zinke that Montana conservatives could not care less about, it should suffice to say that some very real concerns exist about his time in Washington that conservatives do worry about, chiefly spending taxpayer money like a drunken sailor.

While it is no secret that Trump’s goal was to “drain the swamp,” the reality is his administration was full of swamp creatures, which, we admit happily, took some time (understandably) for him to figure out. Heck, Mike Pence was his VP and Omarosa worked in the White House. But without a doubt, Zinke was part of the Swamp and took to it like a duck to water.

Some have suggested that Trump’s endorsement of Zinke (which we tried our best to stop in this article) is a death-knell for Dr. Al Olszewski. Let us explain why that’s not true.

Trump’s endorsements have included 305 candidates from 2017 to 2021. Ordinarily, Trump tries to pick winners because, well, Trump likes winning. But consider this list:

Losing races despite Trump endorsements:

  • John Cox (CA)
  • Jeff Johnson (MN)
  • Kris Kobach (NE)
  • Adam Laxalt (NV)
  • Walker Stapleton (CO)
  • Bob Stefananowski (CT)
  • Scott Walker (WI)
  • Martha McSally (AZ)
  • Lou Barletta (PA)
  • Dean Heller (NV)

And even Montana’s Matt Rosendale lost his 2018 bid against Jon Tester despite Trump visiting the state to endorse him.

In all, in the last election, Trump handed out 33 endorsements (either in person or on Twitter) and lost 19 of them (more than half).

Meanwhile, the fact that Zinke served the Trump administration means nothing, if history is the judge. The long list of Trump appointees who turned against him includes General Maddox, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, John Bolton, John Kelly, National Security Adviser McMaster, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, Special Assistant Cliff Sims, White House comms director Anthony Scaramucci, National Economic Council Director, Gary Cohn, White House Council Tom Cobbs, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Zinke wasn’t in the Trump Administration to turn turn-coat because he was run out by scandals of his own creation. With continued political ambitions in Montana, he knew better than to get on Trump’s bad side. Had Trump known Olszwewski, there’s little doubt he would be the one receiving Trump’s endorsement.

But certainly, Trump’s endorsement carries more weight in Montana than in many other states, right?

In the general election, sure. In the primary, not so much. Al Olszewski is clearly the Montanan favorite in this race. Ryan Zinke is the Washington insider, who resigned in disgrace at the behest of President Trump.

Montanans know Dr. O’s work ethic and integrity. And we also know that Ryan Zinke’s Legislator Loyalty score was at the very bottom while in the Montana Capitol.

While in the Montana Senate, Zinke finished dead last in party loyalty on Legistats (click here) voting with Democrats a sizeable percentage of the time. In the end, it seems that Zinke is an expert at self-promotion and campaigning, but in terms of his actual job performance seems lacking when in office.

No doubt, this is Zinke’s race to lose. Trump’s endorsement (read about that here) doesn’t help. But in the end, Montanans will not be persuaded by a Manhattan billionaire (no matter how much we love him) or by a Washington Insider like Zinke with his own pay-to-play scandals handing over his head. Like Matt Rosendale, we want someone who represents Montana values and has impeccable character.

And for us, that’s not Ryan Zinke. Ironically, Zinke’s strong suits (campaigning, fund-raising, and self-promotion) are Olszewski’s weak spots. It has been reported to MDG that Olszewski is going to be running this campaign very differently from previous campaigns, with professional campaign managers and fundraisers. He is in it, no doubt, to win it.

Trump wants to pick winners. More than half the time, Tump picks losers. Zinke got his endorsement because he met Trump in the Washington swamp while Olszewski was campaigning for the Montana people. The best way to carry on the mission of Donald Trump is to ignore his endorsement (with all due respect), and let Montanans elect a man who is a Montanan at heart.




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